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Brooke de Lench
Brooke de Lench
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Thanksgiving Blessings: Foundation Gives Malawi Youth Chance To Play Sports, Get Education

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Most American youth playing sports these days are lucky enough to play on well-maintained fields and with the best and latest sports gear.  Children in the southeast African nation of Malawi, among the world's least developed and most densely populated countries, aren't so fortunate.  Malawan children face many adversities, including poverty, disease, and low life expectancies.  Opportunities to play sports, much less with the right equipment, are few and far between.Kalekeni Banda and children of Chituka, Malawi


The Banda Bola Sports Foundation is trying to change that.  Over the past two years, with the help of donations of money and gently used sports equipment and new school supplies, the Foundation has begun sponsoring after-school sports and education programs for Malawi students in grades K through 8.  Founded by Malawan native, former Malawan Olympic and UMass women's soccer coach, Kalekeni Banda, the 501(c)(3) non-profit, based in Guilderland, New York, is working with local organizations, secondary schools and soccer clubs to establish the first after-school in-house soccer league for girls and boys in grades 1 through 6 and travel soccer teams for boys and girls in grades 7 and 8 in Chituka Village, Banda's birthplace.

Most recently, on Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Foundation partnered with the Latham (NY) Soccer Club for a fundraiser at the Latham recreation fields, collecting used sports gear and school supplies to send directly to needy youth in Chituka Village.  Huge boxes were filled with used soccer balls, cleats, socks and uniforms, as well as notebooks, pens, paper, and other basic school supplies for shipment to Malawi.  

Smiling faces and Thanksgiving blessings

One need look no further than the "smiles on their faces [to know] the joy" they feel in receiving such gifts of sports equipment and school supplies, says Banda.   "But these blessings cannot continue" without the support of soccer clubs and other youth sports organizations across America.

As America gets ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey and high school football, the Banda Bola Sports Foundation reminds us of just how blessed we are, and how much a difference we can make in lives of those living in poverty in other countries by giving them the opportunity to play sports and get an education.

For more information on how to organize a fundraiser like Latham's or make a donation to help the needy children of Malawi, please visit the Foundation's website.