In October 2014, Wame Chiepe invited us to dream.
Wame lives near an abandoned park in Gaborone, Botswana. Young children play on a rusty, broken-down slide. Surrounded by drinking establishments, the park is an unsafe place. Night-time robberies and stabbings are not unusual. Eventually, the playground kids graduate to the nearby bars.
Wame dreamed of transforming the park and the lives of kids who play there. His dream has grown to inspire a local cadre of investors—and supporters in Mennonite Church Canada.
Nathan and Taryn Dirks, MC Canada Witness workers in Botswana, embraced Wame’s vision. Working together, they began gathering support from others in sports programs, their young-adult Bible study group and players of the beloved game of five-a-side soccer, or futsal as it is known in Botswana.
Via a short video in 2014, Wame and the Dirks invited the rest of MC Canada to join them in what they called a “Futsal dream.” Through partnerships with the Botswana government, local investors and MC Canada, the park is experiencing a miraculous transformation.
Recently, the president of Botswana visited to view the progress: bio-friendly toilets are being built; a buried cistern will collect water from the playing courts; gardens are being developed, sustained by the harvested water; a hut for a disabled shoe repairman will replace his open-air shop under a tree; recycled materials, including glass bottles, tin cans and old tires, are becoming building materials.
MC Canada supported the venture by partnering with Ride for Refuge that involves people from across Canada biking or walking at the same time on the same day in their own cities, raising money for the project via sponsorships. In October 2014, 56 participants comprising eight teams in six locations raised almost $20,000 to launch the “Futsal dream” with the help of their generous sponsors.
Via a recent video update from Nathan, he shared that this is not a charity project, but a collaborative one. The initial seed money from MC Canada has inspired local investors, government officials, sports teams, coaches and athletic professionals to build on Wame’s dream. Now, each involved person in Botswana and each Ride for Refuge participant in Canada is a leader, too.
On Oct. 1, 2016, you are once again invited to lead by signing up for Ride for Refuge. You can ride or walk for any MC Canada Witness worker. There are workers and ministries in 20 countries around the world in need of the same kick-start leadership that launched the “Futsal dream.”
If you and your church already have a congregational partnership with a Witness ministry, interest in the work we are doing together, love a bit of low-key exercise and community building, this is a fun and generous way to be a leader. Visit mennonitechurch.ca for more details.
Daniel Horne is MC Canada’s director of partnership development for British Columbia and Alberta, and director of partnership development for Saskatchewan and Manitoba.