Over the years, one word that keeps coming up during our visits to the Darfuri refugee camps is “forgotten.” The people in the camps feel forgotten on different levels. Forgotten by the international community. Forgotten by many individuals and groups that visit them, make promises, and then forget.
Tracy McGrady visited the camps we visit in Eastern Chad in 2007, and so many of our friends there remember and ask us about him. He promised that he would not forget them. That he would work with them in improving education and sports programs. T-Mac, as he is known by fans and other NBA players, did not forget.
Tracy McGrady of the Atlanta Hawks has stepped up to the plate along with Adidas and have outfitted our Darfur United Team.
McGrady said, “It’s a true honor to help Darfur United. When I visited the camps and saw what adversities they face everyday, it is a true joy to see the Darfuri people raise together and find hope and meaning from sport. Basketball gave me a way out of the challenges I faced as I was growing up and I know this team, the sport and true competition will bring pride, teamwork, and dedication to the people of Darfur. I’m looking forward to seeing some amazing athletes out there. Proud to call them friends”
The people in the camps think of Tracy as a friend. They ask me, “How is our friend, Tracy?” They want him to know that they also think about him. T-Mac was also instrumental in the creation of the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, which is providing funding for primary education in the camps and connecting students from the United States with students in the refugee camps. We have been involved in this project from its inception, and the relationships and real changes in education will ripple positively in to the future of Darfur.
I cannot wait so see the Darfur United players wearing their brand new adidas soccer gear! All of the players were kids when they were forced from their homes by violence, losing homes, family, and everything material, as they escaped to the camps. Their spirit and their game is strong, and to see them on the field will be amazing!
Go Darfur United!