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Local Goleta resident launches first soccer program for girls and boys in Darfuri refugee camps

By Sara-Christine / October, 18, 2013

SANTA BARBARA, CA – 17 OCTOBER 2013 – Local Goleta resident, Sara-Christine Dallain will be traveling to Eastern Chad on October 20th with i-ACT, a nonprofit organization based in Redondo Beach. Dallain and two of her colleagues from i-ACT will be going to the Darfuri refugee camps to launch the very first Darfur United Soccer Academy for boys and girls ages 6-13.

The refugee-led Soccer Academy will serve 2,000 youth in its first refugee camp, eventually expanding to all 12 Darfuri refugee camps spanning the Chad-Sudan border. The Darfur refugees fled from ethnic violence in their home country of Sudan and have been living in the refugee camps for ten years. There are very few programs that address trauma and psycho-social support. This groundbreaking program helps fill this void by offering the first organized sports program for girls and boys in the refugee camps. Darfur United not only provides a safe place for the children to play, but it fosters self-esteem, builds unity, and serves as a vehicle for peace.

Sara-Christine Dallain attended Dos Pueblos High School and has since completed her Masters in Public Health from UCLA and is now the Project Coordinator of i-ACT programs in the refugee camps. Dallain describes her passion for her work with i-ACT: “My dream has always been to work alongside refugees in order to improve the way the international community responds to refugee crises and also to empower the refugees to take control of their own lives. In this case, we’re using sport as a tool for peace and empowerment.”

Darfur United began as an adult refugee soccer team who competed in the 2012 VIVA World Cup for nationless people. Creating the team and helping them reach the competition in Iraqi Kurdistan was an inspiration to not only the players but to hundreds of thousands Darfuris. In a recent text message one Darfur United player said, “You know, when I remember those moments in Goz Beida and Adiss Ababa, Istanbul, and Erbil, I feel happy and freedom…Now we know we are a part of the world, and humanity before political.”

Having traveled to the refugee camps more than a dozen times since 2005, one of i-ACT’s greatest strengths is the ability to constantly connect and communicate with the refugees to include their valuable perspective, input and feedback in program development. The call for the Darfur United Soccer Academy was driven by refugee voices. During a Darfur United team training, a young woman watching the training asked i-ACT’s Director, Gabriel Stauring: “when will it be our turn?” As a result of this demand from girls in the refugee camps, i-ACT has been working with DU Coach Ambassadors and its Athletic Trainer to create a soccer curriculum that will promote the participation of girls with skills, scrimmages, and health and hygiene guidelines that the Darfuri coaches can build upon.

The i-ACT team departs on October 19th from Los Angeles and will arrive at their first refugee camp on October 26th. The team and Darfuri coaches will be available for interviews. We will be posting blogs, videos, and photos at www.darfurunited.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Katie-Jay Scott, ktj@iactivism.org, 310.738.028

Darfur United, a project of i-ACT, is an all-refugee soccer team and youth academy made up of Darfuri refugees living in refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Not only is Darfur United an opportunity for the refugees to represent their people and play, it is also a movement – a movement to bring hope, inspiration, and joy to the displaced people of Darfur. www.darfurunited.com

i-ACT, based in the Los Angeles area, empowers individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity. i-ACT is a global team dedicated to putting a face on the numbers of dead, dying, and displaced while creating mutually enriching relationships between those in danger and those willing and able to act, fostering a new culture of participation. www.iactivism.org


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