Life is undoubtedly a lottery.

We have no say as to when and where we will arrive, who will be responsible for our care and under what circumstances our days will deliver.

Many are winners in life’s game of chance, but many more have to endure untold hardship and suffering as they set about dealing with the cards they have been shuffled.

The past week has provided more insight for me as to the true nature of this world than the past 34 years combined. On one hand I am blessed with a wonderful family and incredible opportunity from which I can build my own destiny…….on the other, I have witnessed incredible sadness and extreme conditions and behaviors that would truly question the nature of our species.

How is it that under the same blue sky, there can be such a contrast in fortune?

The children of D’jabal camp will be my greatest recollection. Amazing young children with talent and character that is waiting for a chance to be given a stage to develop upon. They are resourceful and friendly and like kids of any other age, just want someone to show an interest in them. They wander the camps in there hundreds, just looking for something, anything that will stimulate their minds to take away the monotony of the dusty baron and lifeless landscape they call home.

I would take a plane full of these kids back to the US with me if I could. You can see their potential but you also know that there is less than a 1% chance that they will ever have the opportunity to thrive.

Each day as we arrive to train, the kids appear from nowhere (at 5.30am) and start their process of interaction with our group. They shout out footballer’s names to grab our attention “Messi, Xavi, Ronaldo”….a new name appears each day as they work hard to outsmart their buddies!…….”Kaka, Puyol……Rooney!!!!” They reach out to shake your hand and mimic “hello” in their new found British accents…it’s the highlight of my day…..I wish I could find away to shake all of their hands every morning!

It’s pretty amazing to me that in a territory so isolated that football continues to thrive as the world’s game. As we drive through the Chadian village on the way to camp each day, footballer’s names and teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid appear as graffiti on the many walls and structures that decorate the way. Like children all over the world….they still dream to emulate their heroes.

Mark Hodson
Darfur United Coach