World Vision is working in Baga Sola, one of Chad's harshest and driest areas, to help children who are living in extreme poverty access their right to play and fulfil their dreams.
Selia, a small community 56 kilometres from Baga Sola in southwestern Chad, is home to thousands of displaced families, returnees and refugees living with host communities. The village has more than four thousand people among which 1,200 are children ranging from newborns to teenagers.
As part of its child protection activities, World Vision is encouraging children to play football - one of the most popular sports in Africa - to give them the opportunity to make new friends and build social skills. In this Sahel zone, the importance of “the beautiful game” is not underestimated.
For children of Selia, accessing their fundamental right to play isn't that easy. Most boys do not have a football and cannot even dream of purchasing one. As well, many children don’t have the opportunity to play and escape the sufferings and trauma they experienced.
“Many children do not know that they have the right to play, and that activity is just as important as reading their lessons” says Yawale Alhadji, who is a trained animator with World Vision, before sounding his referee’s whistle as a player failed to properly use his feet for dribbling and shooting.
World Vision knows that through the global appeal of football, it can involve and work with children who are particularly affected by the Boko Haram conflict.
Seventeen-year-old Kere Ali is one of them. He comes from a displaced family of four children and is in class 1 at the village’s primary school. He is very passionate about sports, especially football.
"I love to play football" says Kere with a smile. "I play every day and it has made me lots of friends in the village".
Kere and his friends enjoy football and take advantage of the village’s square stadium - the only large space available with at each end, two sticks serving as goal - to play, even without shoes.
"We do not wear shoes. There’s too much sand here, shoes don’t allow us to dribble well. But we’ll be happy to have more playgrounds, jerseys and equipment”, he says.
World Vision is supporting these children, encouraging them to play and get involved in football which can have a long-term positive impact on their emotional wellbeing and lives, as well as being useful in forging social cohesion in this environment.
"When I play football, I am lifted up and I forget all the trauma", says Kere.