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DARFUR UNITED is not just a soccer/football team, but it’s the real Darfur voice, and a credit to the people of Darfur, and we are heroes looking for dreams, for a chance to represent every Darfuri that has been a victim of genocide, and we are the most amazing team/group and family ever.

Iggy, Darfur United Midfielder

Today is World Refugee Day. A day to honor those who have been displaced from their homes and advocate for their return to a more peaceful country. While it makes me terribly sad that our friends remain in refugee camps in Chad and Sudan, it brings me such joy and satisfaction to know that through your support we’ve been able to bring hope, joy, and pride to Darfuris everywhere.

Most recently, you helped support taking the Darfur United team to compete in the ConIFA World Football Cup in Ostersund, Sweden. It was no small feat, and it took a large community of support to make it happen. Many volunteer hours of seeking sponsorships, collecting and sorting equipment and medical supplies, organizing fundraising events, and confirming visas, travel papers, and airlines reservations were needed. Together we raised thousands of dollars for travel and team expenses. Many community members helped in these efforts by donating themselves – sometimes more than once – and asking their own friends and family to also give. In the end, 16 players representing hundreds of thousands of Darfuris who have fled their homes because of violence pulled on green jerseys with “Humanity before Politics” on the sleeve and took to the field as a united squad.

So on this World Refugee Day, I want to honor you and your actions that have contributed to a source of joy and pride in an otherwise bleak and dire situation. The violence continues in Darfur, and has even escalated in the last few months. Many of our players have lost family members, and have seen their villages destroyed. It is hard to imagine what you might feel like after living in a refugee camp for 11 years, but it is not hard to realize how much Darfur United means to the players, their communities, and the Darfur people.

Thank you for donating, sending emails, posting to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and securing in-kind donations. Thank you for attending One Strong Kick and writing letters to the players. Thank you for being relentless in making sure we landed in Sweden.

Thank you to our Darfur United sponsors and community partners: Vacations4Less, FaceFirst Printing, Promotions Department, Stadium, Evo Soccer Programs, Jansport, HOPE, Affinity, West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation, Beach Cities Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Rapinoe Soccer Camps, Genocide No More, Save Darfur — Redding, CA, and many others.

You are a real hero of World Refugee Day. You are the voice that doesn’t quiet, the pressure that doesn’t stop, and the foundation that never fails.

In a world with roughly 38 million displaced people, approximately the population of California, it might seem like a nearly impossible task to help create security, hope, and joy in the lives of refugees. By being a part of the i-ACT community, you’ve taken the most important step: you’ve joined the movement for hope.

Thank you.

Darfur United 2014 Thanks You from i-ACT on Vimeo.

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