This past week PeacePlayers Cyprus International Fellow Gunnar Hagstrom traveled to Ethiopia to visit the work of Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), an organization that “transforms the lives of orphaned children and helps them to become healthy, independent, productive members of their communities and the world.”
Gunnar left from Cyprus and spent one week in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
The purpose of Gunnar’s trip, conducted under the banner of PPI’s technical assistance program, was to help the foundation assess the possibility of expanding and enhancing their “Orphan Soccer League,” a youth soccer league for a number of orphanages and organizations in Ethiopia that work with vulnerable youth. As mentioned in our blog about Technical Assistance Program Director Brian Cognato’s trip to Latin American, members of the technical assistance program have traveled all over the world in the past few weeks, including trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Sana’a, Yemen. Through the technical assistance program, PPI is working to use our institutional knowledge to support other communities and programs to improve their surroundings with sport.
Gunnar worked in Addis Ababa for 7 days and spoke with staff members of WWO, WWO children, and the head of the sport commission in Ethiopia to find out what was in place already, what could be improved, what the communities served would value most, and how best to create that value. In between meetings and discussions, Gunnar was able to work directly with the children, playing classic PPI games like “Sit Down Clown.” The local staff and individuals that Gunnar met, including his ever-charismatic WWO guide Million, were very hospitable, hard-working and dedicated hosts.
According to Gunnar, “One of the best things about sports is that the kids develop a passion which becomes an opportunity to dream.” Helping some of the most underprivileged children in the world see that they have the ability to turn those dreams into reality is what the work of WWO is all about, and PPI is honored to have been able to play a small part in supporting WWO in pursuit of that goal.