I first met Alex through an email request. A Manhattan Beach Sand & Surf soccer coach emailed me asking if we had a need for used soccer gear. We had already been collecting balls and jerseys from the soccer team that Gabriel’s son is on, so it was only natural to enlist the help of another family. Alex and her daughter’s involvement has snowballed since then. This last May, we honored Alex with the Spirit of Darfur United Award, and there is no one more deserving.
Alex Nuttall-Smith is the Darfur United Athletic Trainer. She began by providing our team with first-aid kits and advice, but she soon found out that her expertise was needed. As she said herself, the Darfuris traveling to the VIVA World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan were no longer refugees, but world class athletes that deserve the same medical attention as any other athlete representing their country. She has been dedicated to supporting Darfur United and sharing the stories of the athletes ever since.
Last Tuesday, Alex, her daughter Julia, and I spoke to five Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach, CA) classes about i-ACT, life in the refugee camps, and Darfur United. Alex met the Model UN class teacher casually, and in the spirit of DU, had shared her involvement. Naturally, he capitalized on her excitement and invited us to speak. As Alex shared the stories from her Iraqi hotel rooms (the hospital as the players called it – link to her blog) and the need to share their stories, she had goosebumps.
Alex is truly the spirit of Darfur United. DU is a community effort that shares not only our joy and love for sport but also our soccer resources and our friendship with Darfuris thousands of miles away. The presentations were not just about Darfur. Our hope with each community presentation is that maybe the next Susan Rice or Samantha Power is in the room. Perhaps the next UN High Commissioner for Refugees is listening. This is the spirit of Darfur United.
After the day, the teacher sent us this note of appreciation:
Please accept my sincere thanks for the presentations you and KTJ did yesterday in my classes. Not only was the info timely and hugely informative, but my students were excited by the fact that you both have chosen to pursue lives that consist of more than climbing the corporate ladder. In a city where wealth sometimes seems like the only worthwhile goal, more kids need to realize they can find fulfillment in a variety of ways. Role models matter and I am terribly happy they were able to see and hear from both of you.
I am confident you acquired some eager supporters and, who knows, maybe even a worthwhile intern or two. Please pass along my thanks to KTJ and let her know that her enthusiasm and knowledge are always welcome in my classroom.
Thank you Alex for connecting us to Mira Costa and for keeping our Darfuri friends connected to the world.
If you would like us to do a presentation for your class please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get your community, school, or club involved through Kicks and Hope!