What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
Gabriel Stauring, co-founder and Director of i-ACT, has been to the refugee camps eight times since 2005. He is committed to creating personal relationships between those who have been affected by genocide and mass atrocities and those who are able to advocate and take action to support those who need it most. Since his first trip, Gabriel played soccer with balls of rags and alongside twenty, sometimes, thirty kids thirsty for fun and attention. Katie-Jay Scott, Director of Community Programming, played Division I college soccer in the United States, and knows first hand how soccer can help individuals address personal trauma and anger. She has visited the refugee camps four times, each time bringing a soccer ball to play with and leave for the kids. Gabriel’s son recently was accepted as a team member for the Boys U-9 MB Sand and Surf Soccer Club. Leaning about the clubs commitment to community and strength-based coaching inspired the idea of connecting the soccer players in CA with the youth of Darfur. After discovering what Gabriel had dedicated his life to, the MB soccer coaches offered jerseys and t-shirts for i-ACT to take to the refugee camps. Through initial conversations and a few details about i-ACT trips, the coaches became interested in going to the refugee camps to deliver the equipment and meet the people. On i-ACT’s last trip to the refugee camp, one aid worker said, if she could ask for anything for the children in the camps, it would be soccer balls. Keeping these words close to his heart, when Gabriel met with MB Sand and Surf coaches eager to be involved, he instantly knew a mutually enriching relationship that brought soccer to the camps and changed the lives of youth in CA was possible.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
On the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, Gabriel Stauring and his daughter, Noemi, were listening to an NPR special report on the 1994 horrors that killed more than 800,000 people. During ongoing conversations with Noemi, he committed to acting then and in the future. He soon started hearing about Darfur. Out of a sense of personal responsibility and guilt for not acting during Rwanda, Gabriel began acting and sent a few emails to friends and families about Darfur. Each day he asked himself, what more can I do? Through action campaigns, he began to build a community working to end genocide. Soon after, he co-founded Stop Genocide Now (SGN) which seeks to change the way the world responds to genocide by putting a face to the numbers of dead, dying and displaced. SGN is a grassroots community dedicated to working to protect populations in grave danger of violence, death and displacement resulting from genocide. Through active education, advocacy and policy change SGN resolves to change the way the world responds to genocide. SGN is currently focused on creating awareness and action to stop the genocide in Darfur and to deal appropriately with its aftermath. All of our projects focus on and utilize the strength and power of grassroots connectivity. With his project i-ACT, Gabriel has been to the Darfur refugee camps in Chad eight times since 2005. i-ACT seeks to empower individuals within communities, institutions, and governments to take personal responsibility to act on behalf of those affected by genocide, mass atrocities, and crimes against humanity. Gabriel leads a global team committed to creating mutually enriching relationships between those in danger and those willing and able to act, fostering a new culture of participation. When not in the refugee camps, Gabriel travels across the country to schools, universities and communities telling the stories from Darfur. i-ACT and SGN have initiated educational programs, such as Camp Darfur, an interactive mock refugee camp, and developed advocacy and action campaigns that include two 100-Day Fast for Darfur, 100,000 postcards to legislators, Darfur Freedom Summer Vigils, Darfur Fast for Life, Sudan Sham Elections Campaign, and iOnSudan.net. Gabriel continues to develop innovative projects, like i Play Soccer United, in order to bridge cultural gaps and inspire a culture of participation.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company