Sports4HOPE- Itruri Region

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Sports4HOPE- Itruri Region

Congo (Kinshasa)
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To further the reconciliation and peace process in three communities in Eastern DR Congo by using sports as a mechanism for healing, empowerment, inclusion, and fairplay through community owned football leagues for youth affected by conflict (including child soldiers, refugees, IDPs, victims of rape, disabled persons).

In other words, use sports to foster hope. Sports4HOPE.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

DRC is home to the deadliest conflict since WW2 - a conflict that remains unresolved. It is estimated that over 5 million people have died due to conflict related issues and over half of them are children. Youth are not only victims of this war but are also used as weapons. Specifically, in 2003 there was a massacre in a small village called Bogoro, located in the Ituri region of Eastern DR Congo. This was the result of a decades old conflict between the Hema, Lendu, and Nigiti tribes. As a result of this fighting, there is an entire generation of child soldiers, victims of rape, refugees/IPS, and disabled persons. These kids have very limited resources available to them and are not typically included in community. This leaves the current peace extremely fragile. Without more opportunity and resources, there remains a high probability for repeated cycles of violence resulting in more deaths and shattered lives.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

There are many sport and development models - and many aimed at peace in conflict areas. We differ in that we are not coming in with a set program to implement. Our goal is to allow the local people to be the lead developers in the project. This specific region, Eastern DRC, has been exploited for over a century and the last thing they need is to have their role as leaders in their own development taken away as well. We have been collaborating with local leaders and a locally run organization for the last year. Sports4HOPE was actually birthed through those discussions. Once the resources are available, each of the three communities will clear fields to be used for football. Our team will then assist by helping coach and train coaches. When ready, an inter-community league will develop, lead by leaders from each community. This will be the first inter-community effort aimed at reconciliation in 7 years (post a 2003 massacre in the area) and will be a huge step in furthering the peace process. This grassroots development approach which will tangibly bring together three communities through football, in one of the most conflict ridden areas of the world, will not only put the sport in development model to the ultimate test, but will serve to foster peace in the deadliest conflict since WW2. There is such potential!!
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

For the past year, three communities have been awaiting the project to develop and there is much hope for things to begin and anticipation for what it may lead too. The hope of these three communities is the current impact Sports4HOPE has had. This hope is tangible and, for a region devastated by conflict, it is extremely important.
About You
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Section 1: About You
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Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Phone


Organization Address

15820 Paseo del Sur San Diego, California 92127

Organization Country

, CA, San Diego County

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Do you have a patent for this idea?


1. Needs assessment/feasibility study in Eastern DRC alongside local leaders
2. Form organizational structure with capacity for growth and sustainability
3. Communicate initiative to everyone
4. Become experts on the subject matters at hand
5. Form collaborative partnerships/friendships
6. Prepare our teammates who will be physically working in the region
7. Acquire resources necessary to make this reality (tools for fields, equipment, flights, etc)
7. Establish physical presence in the region
8. Strengthen relationships and trust with communities
9. Work with leaders to develop leagues with established set of values and principles
10. Develop fields alongside communities
11. Begin community leagues
12. Begin inter-community leagues
13. Learn. Sustain. Grow. Repeat.


1. 2009- Established sports as ideal mechanism to meet needs of youth affected by conflict & to prevent conflict from recurring
2. Formed team of 6 (all in our 20s - currently in Toronto, Nashville, San Diego, Washington DC, & Paris) & a logistical partnership with Synergie Simama. Incorporated, received 501c3 status, & are working toward a sustainability model called Training4Change (first event- July 9th & 10th)
3. Created website, e-update letter, Facebook page, Twitter, Flikr, & are members of Guidestar and
4. Two on team finished their Masters of International Peace & Conflict Resolution. Receive Google Alerts for all relevant current events. Constantly connect with organizations to learn from their experiences. Members of team are working with physically & mentally disabled populations.
5. Received seed grant, work with, & discussing possible partnerships with Eastern Congo Initiative, Sammy Wilkinson Fund, & Bana ya Village.
6. Members in Paris working on French language skills & other has distinguished soccer certificates in US.
Actions 7-13 will all move toward reconciliation, inclusion and peace.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Year 1. We have to make sure this is sustainable before we physically begin the project. It would not be fair to the communities if we begin prematurely (though we are anxious/excited for it to take place). Community participation is key from the beginning. Also, initial leadership is crucial - local leaders (and our team) must exhibit support from the youth who will participate.

Year 2. Commitment - Everyone must maintain committed in light of unseen challenges. Inclusion - there must be equal participation opportunities and resources for all the youth in the communities. Cooperation - everyone must learn/strive to work together in light of differences. Equipment must also be maintained and available as needed.

Year 3. Inter-community leagues must be fair, fun, and safe. This will require communication, sharing of resources, honesty, and trust from leaders and participants.

Over the next 5 years, our goal is to learn from the Ituri project and take this same community based, sport in reconciliation & development approach to other communities affected by conflict.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

This project will be unsuccessful if there is a lack of commitment. Commitment drives everything. If fighting breaks out we have to be committed to stick with this project and these communities afterward. If misunderstandings arise, everyone must be committed to listen and work to find common ground. A lack of commitment to communicate, understand, try, learn, connect, respect, forgive, heal, teach, empower, lead, grow, move forward - a lack of commitment to any or all of these on a corporate level would prevent the success of the project.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

In what country?

, OR

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Synergie Simama, Bunia, DRC

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Synerige Simama is absolutely crucial to the success of this project. They are a highly respected, locally-run, Bunia-based nonprofit organization, working to reduce poverty within DRC communities and improve living standards for those with disabilities by providing medical services and income-generating activities. Synergie Simama has committed to providing logistical support, language translation (as needed), project monitoring, local leadership development, and a base of operations for community outreach.

We are also a member of By working with them, we will gain much needed communication assistance. They provide free services to non-profits in topics ranging from business plan formation to graphic design. All of which are important parts of organizational development and are areas we need to strengthen.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Business plan. We have a strategic plan and objectives, but we are limited in our knowledge of the business world. We recognize that this is crucial to help us grow in the future and to meet the needs we currently have with this specific project.

2. Seed money. It's kind of the whole "chicken and the egg" phenomenon. Given that the next step for us is to actually design the program in collaboration with the communities, we won't have the specifics, logistics, or track record that are needed to prove validity/success to businesses or foundations. However, we certainly will need help in acquiring not only the initial funds needed to begin the project on the ground, but also those that are required to build our sustainability model.

3. Sustainable model. Beyond providing the initial money to implement this Ituri project, we desire to be a constant resource for the program and then to begin other such projects elsewhere in the world. We firmly believe that football is more than a game. We are trying to become sustainable through an effort called Training4Change. Our vision is to hold football clinics (or partner with current ones) in under-served cities in the States and beyond. Ideally, we will provide training from qualified instructors who donate their time. The community itself, would "sponsor" the youth to participate in the clinics but the funds raised will benefit Sports4HOPE leagues being developed in conflict areas. The purpose is then three-fold: 1. To provide the funds needed to implement projects overseas. 2. Provide football training to youth who otherwise would not be able to afford such training (all youth benefit from sports!). 3. Raise awareness and support for kids growing up in conflict areas while giving youth everywhere the opportunity to take action while participating in something they love: sports. Our first such clinic is taking place through the Boys and Girls Club in Murfreesboro, TN this July. Afterward, we will evaluate and determine the best way to establish it in other cities to set us on the path to sustainability.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Everyone on our team has a different story, but for me, personally, the defining moment was at a bar on U Street in Washington DC. I was watching a Titans football game with an old friend that I hadn't seen in years. Stephen and I had worked together at a restaurant called Black-Eyed Pea throughout high school. As we caught up with each other, I/we realized that we may, in fact, be friends for more than just good times and server memories. I had gained some non-profit experience throughout college and via internships that would be necessary to complete the answer to the question I asked him: "So what do you want to do with your masters degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution?" His answer was the same answer he had given me back in high-school: use sports to facilitate peace in DRC. I told him to go for it. A month later he gave me a call and the rest has been the ride of our lives.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Stephen and Paul Reynard are brothers (contrary to popular belief they are not twins) who compliment each other though couldn't be more opposite. Their grandparents were actually missionaries in Congo for 40 years before being evacuated as a result of the Simba rebellions. Two years ago, Stephen decided to accompany his Uncle, who works for CBM (formerly Christian Blind Mission), to visit various CBM projects located in the Bunia, Epulu, and Butembo areas. While there he met a man named Kalongo Rwabikanga who was a family friend and experienced community developer. Kalongo works for CBM as the Director of a community based rehabilitation(CBR) and has also created a Bunia-based organization called Synergie Simama. Stephen then revisited the Bunia area a year later to conduct a feasibility study/needs assessment alongside Kalongo. Sports4HOPE is an idea that has been birthed out of a shared vision between a group of Yanks and Kalongo.

Beyond the history the Reynard family has in Congo, Stephen has an eye and heart for people, peace, development, and of course football. I have known him for seven years and there is no doubt that Stephen is fully committed to the people of the region and understands what our role should be as foreigners assisting the development process. The communities agree as well - even though they have had to be patient as we work to acquire appropriate resources and skill sets necessary to make this a reality. Sometimes there are difficult times and challenges we face as a young and small team, but Stephen knows how to rally us all for the task at hand. He is, indeed, a social innovator and the world would be better if more developers shared his relationship based approach.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Through a retweet on Twitter