Thought I would share a text the #RUFCCamp17 WhatsApp group got this morning from Kennedy 'Bluetooth' Yesigome. Kennedy has volunteered for RUFC camps 2 years in a row and worked as a local representative for USC and RUFC this past year in Kampala. He served at the Head of the Makerere team of students for #RUFCCamp17. He recently graduated with his masters from the Makerere School of Public Health. His thoughts are powerful and shared by so many of us...
"Hi guys I've just been reflecting about some of the camp moments this year and how unique it was.
I'm just thinking of the excitement USC and Makerere students showed whenever Heather was giving remarks at the end of each camp day . Students were saying their school slogans with a lot of enthusiasm. It is something I hadn't seen before.
Thinking about it, am amazed by the levels of engagement of everyone in the early morning dances before kids always lined up to get their supplies. Everyone literally had a dancing group of kids around them enjoying.
The teaching sessions always began when everyone is fresh and super charged from the dancing. People had a positive vibe throughout. And for the trips on the bus in the morning and evenings, it was something else.
What a time to be alive! What an opportunity to work with Ray United FC! What an opportunity to work with USC! What a chance to meet USC students!
What a golden opportunity to interact with Simone, Ryan, Lou, Kim, Lily, Nazz, Desu, Emma, Ashley, Diana, Godfrey, Ruth, Dee, Lou, Papa Ray, Cary and the youngsters Ethan and Chris.
How would life be if I hadn't spent the special moments with you Desu, Diana, Simone, Godfrey, Emma and Ryan! I must say that you guys are something else.
I must say that God has a way of bringing great people together. Take a moment and think about what earth would be like without people like Prof Heather Wipfli, Abdul, Ray Wipfli, like seriously though, what kind of words can you use to describe Ray. Many of the kids in his age group are doing nothing. Ray is doing things of people 4 times his age.
And for Evan and the GHN team you led, man you made work move so smoothly. You're such an interesting and simple person to work with.
With the opportunity I got to work with you guys, I think I can say that I have made it in life.
Moving on after camp I must say is a challenge for me at the moment. Especially now that I don't have anything like classes to keep me occupied. (Am now looking for work until next RUFC camp season.) The relationships and moments I had in the past month are so hard to forget...forever in my heart."
THANK YOU BLUETOOTH!! We all love you and can't wait to see you next year!
So, I’m graduating from middle school next week (high school promotion or whatever you would like to refer to it as). For me it is a good opportunity to put my life and education in perspective. As I continue my journey into high school I give thanks for the free public schools provided to me. La Canada High School is an incredible place. The highest ranked open enrollment high school in California by US News and World Report, the school not only offers a wide range of challenging AP courses, but also offers excellent programs in music and the arts. For example, I’m a singer and the school has a vibrant choral program that tours all over the world, singing in famously renowned venues. Nearly every student at LCHS goes on to a 4-year college.
I know I am exceptionally lucky to live and go to school in La Canada. I know that if I was living in rural Uganda, for example, this graduation might mean that my formal education was over and instead of looking forward to all the incredible opportunities that await me in high school I would be facing a lifetime of work. If my parents couldn’t afford secondary school, I would now be forced to join the workforce like millions of other children around the world. As is the case for so many poor youth, my potential would be robbed by fate and my opportunities confiscated due to generations of poverty.
In the end education is all about opportunity. The opportunity to grow, to learn, and to achieve. The opportunity to one day to have control and choices over your future and to thrive. It is through education that we can break the chain of poverty. To be able to help provide educational opportunities to youth in need is one of the greatest blessings that I have gained through RUFC over the past 3 years. This week, thanks to nearly a dozen families who have agreed to support students, RUFC again paid tuition for nine children to continue their education in secondary school. These are terrific, bright kids from hard working families who without our support would no longer be attending school. Through this support, we are setting these youths on a path to success and paying jobs. People often think that they need to give so much to make a difference. In reality, all anyone needs to give is these kids a chance.
I think it is time to address something that was said to me the other day while fundraising for RUFC that has been eating away at me.
“You know there are veterans in OUR country who are living on the streets, and you’re helping kids in Africa?”
To you, I say this: It is obvious that the issue of veteran neglect plaguing this country frustrates you, as it does many. But you can’t always expect other people to prioritize your concerns (I have learned this firsthand). As a wealthy person living in La Canada you are as fit as anyone to take on a fundraising role, help raise awareness, or any other positive action for an issue that is important to you. The abject poverty and inequity impacting children and families in Mpigi is what concerns me and I spend my time and effort to help improve their lives. If you want something else done, do it. And as for your strong sense of patriotism, it is not wrong to possess a love or loyalty for your country, after all it is where you live. However, this love is susceptible to corruption in a form of supremacy. Then it becomes an extreme form of nationalism - or patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts especially marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries. To me, unity among the world’s countries and all its different people is the ultimate goal for mankind. Something people have been trying to do for as long as we have lived. How, as a world, can we progress without developing and nurturing friendship and positive relationships with people who live beyond our conceived borders? We are a human society that has extended across real, tangible, geographical isolations, so why should we cower beneath the imaginary ones? Imaginary political lines have been partially shaped by our fear and our greed and the truth is that nothing stands between us and unity except our fear of change. It is our job to extend our arms of love and generosity to all the world. Nothing makes a person on one side of the border different than someone on the other, and the same goes for across the world. We are all humans, of common blood. Wherever we come from, whatever religion we follow, whoever we choose to love. We are all the same, more so than any of us can understand.
I believe that at this time in history it is as important as ever to show the world that Americans care about equity and access to opportunity - at home and abroad. Next week is “Giving Tuesday” and I hope that everyone will think about what is important to them and make a commitment to help. This can be in the form of a donation, but it doesn't have to be about money. It can mean writing a letter to a policymaker, raising awareness, or learning more about why the problem exists in the first place.
Hi Guys!!! This month was all about strengthening the RUFC team. To start, we held our first Ray United Leadership Council meeting. I am really excited about all the great ideas and feedback we got from our friends and supporters. The main topic of our meeting was the mission and vision for RUFC. We all agreed that the core activity for RUFC should remain our awesome health and soccer camp. We also discussed whether or not wanted to remain focused on Mpigi, Uganda. While there is sometimes pressure to move to other communities and countries, we decided not to leave Uganda or Mpigi. We need to continue supporting the people we know and love and deepen our impact in the community over the long-term. As far as how to make the camps better, we decided we needed to start funding sustainable health and nutrition based structures. For example, we agreed that it would be a good idea to teach the students and teachers how to keep a sustainable garden at the school. This would help bring nutritional value to the program, as many children simply gnaw at sugar cane to keep their hunger at bay. Another idea is to fund a nutrition/health teacher to maintain a steady flow of lessons and structure instead of just teaching them during the camp and leaving. Overall, the meeting was great team building experience. Some of the best advice I got during the meeting was to follow the advice of David Sivers – to refrain from thinking or speaking of ‘I’ and learn the importance of the first follower to start a movement .
Another area of teambuilding has been the establishment of the LCHS 7/8 RUFC club! We’ve held our first two meetings already and our club has gotten to work - our clothing drive was a great example of that. We had so many helpful students move the bags (multiple times). Club members also helped weigh the bags and sell t-shirts and jewelry during the textile drive. Between the clothes and the additional donations, we raised $1,700 dollars this weekend. The club is now planning more events – including a Walk-To-School on May 5. One of our main goals as a club is the expose LCHS 7/8 students to the reality kids face outside of the La Canada bubble (#beyondthebubble). The walk aims to help raise awareness about the many kids all around the world, including in Mpigi, who must walk hours to attend school.
Finally, the RUFC textile drive would have been only half as successful if it wasn't for the team of families at Competitive Edge Charter Academy (CECA) in Yucaipa, California. The first grade classrooms organized their 'Friday Families' to support RUFC. In the end the school raised 1,700 lbs of textiles and donated over $500! Amazing job CECA!
In the end, RUFC is just like soccer, to win you need an entire team fighting for victory. RUFC is a team committed to winning the game of life!!
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.