Most of you know all about Gecho, our friend, driver and translator who makes our trips to Ethiopia as smooth as possible! But did you know that MWAHFE has inspired Gecho to take on some of his own projects empowering young women?
Recently MWAHFE was able to donate soccer uniforms, socks, and balls to a girls team that Gecho helps support in central Ethiopia, a few hours from Addis. It’s the first time the teens have had jerseys or a proper set of soccer balls with which to play. Gecho loves supporting these young ladies, and he looks for sponsorships to further help the team.
“I start to support the girls because of Shelley. Before, I support the boys team,” Gecho explained. “Shelley tries to find ways to support women, and I am with you. I just continued on.”
This is such a heartwarming story – and not just because of Gecho’s source of inspiration.
MWAHFE’s support makes a huge difference for the soccer team.
Bethelehem Kassahun, a Grade 6 student on the team, started playing soccer with the boys at school.
“That is when I fell in love with soccer. I am from a very poor family and the only time I am happy is when I play soccer,” she said.
Soccer is a common childhood activity for kids in Canada. But in Ethiopia, most girls aren’t afforded that opportunity.
One player said that her brother was always given the soccer ball. Several others had to hide their love of the sport from disapproving families.
Gecho knows what a difference this team makes for the girls.
“Playing soccer has helped the girls to be healthier, cheerful, athletic, and they are able to make lots of friends,” he said.
A simple game of soccer can have a ripple effect.
“Whenever I come to play soccer I feel the most confident, and now I have lots of friends,” said Habiba Sultan, 15.
Her teammate Hasset Nigusse echoed those thoughts.
“I feel so confident whenever I carry my training bag to go to soccer,” said Habiba, who used to sneak over to the stadium and watch soccer, unbeknownst to her family.
“I now play on a women’s soccer team, and I am so happy and have lots of friends,” she said.
And guess what? The work doesn’t stop here.
Thanks to the financial support of MWAHFE, Gecho is now preparing to set up a second girls soccer team. We can’t wait to see more happy faces on the soccer field (or should we say football pitch!) soon!