I had the pleasure of spending the day with Leila and Habiba, our two women Darfur United Soccer Academy coaches. They took me to their homes, introduced me to their families, and we just hung out and talked while eating dried dates. Well, mostly I asked a lot of questions, and they graciously answered them.

IMG_0345When I asked Leila about how she felt about being a DUSA coach, she responded, “Now I feel a new responsibility. I feel like a leader, and I feel confident talking in front of large groups of people in the community.”

Habiba responded that she now felt responsible for informing her community about the Academy and the importance of football for the children. Habiba excitedly added that she has learned new football skills, and now for the first time, she plays football with the boys! This may not seem like a novelty for you and me, but before the creation of DUSA, girls were not given the opportunity or choice to play football in the camps.

Leila and Habiba were 8 and 7 years old when they escaped their village of Kabar in Darfur during an attack by the Janjaweed. They walked for 3 days, with only the clothes on their back. No shoes. No food. I asked what they ate along the way to survive the three day journey. They laughed at my question. They said, “Nothing! We only drank the water that we found.” They would go on to describe this three day journey as “difficult”. I’d say that’s putting it lightly.

Today, Leila is 19 and Habiba is 18. Neither are married. This is rare, but each said they did not want to be married yet because they want to maintain the ability to choose to get educated. Two key concepts here: Choice and Education.

So, I’m proud to say that the Academy has given these two women jobs, training, an income to support their families, new confidence, and a voice in their community.

Help us continue to empower these women and their community. Click here to donate to the Darfur United Soccer Academy – donations support their salaries and future trainings.

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