Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UNICEF Gives Sports Therapy a New Meaning

Thanks to UNICEF led initiatives in the Lira district of northern Uganda a sense of community and normalcy is beginning to reignite amongst the area’s youth, as schools reopen and efforts are made to rebuild a sense of community. Helping these children reacclimate to their surroundings is certainly no small task; many of them were held hostage and forced to fight by insurgents for many years. Others describe horrific ordeals including disease, death, and other occurrences many of the children deem unspeakable.

Fortunately, UNICEF is seeking unconventional ways to rehabilitate these children. Using sports, mainly soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and other bond-building activities, UNICEF hopes to encourage non-violent conflict resolution and a deep sense of community. UNICEF hopes such programs will also help keep kids back in school and help to ease negative memories. According to Alex Ochien, a parent of two students at the Angolocom School, “The sport competitions help the child to forget about the past, and help all of us in the community to focus on the present and the future.” A young participant in these UNICEF supported programs says, “sports and games have brought him together with new friends and opened his mind to think positive thoughts, stay out of trouble and do well in school.”

Though the reconstruction in every sense, of Northern Uganda will prove to be a challenge, the United Nations is making definitive strides in improving the lives of children in the region.