Shooting Footballs Instead of Bullets
by The Charter
11 months ago
This year's Dutch Compassion Award winner is Ambrose Ongwen. The award's theme was compassion in sports and Ongwen's work in conflicted regions helping substitute footballs for bullets is being modeled in Holland and other nations. "By not shooting a rifle but a shooting a football they are playing for peace now."
Ambrose Ongwen and Seeds of Peace Africa
Ambrose Ongwen is a farm boy from Kenya. At first, he wanted a priest and worked with street children in Nairobi and became a well-practiced counselor. Four years ago he founded the organization Seeds of Peace Africa (SOPA). Together with the Dutch organization IKV Pax Christi, SOPA developed the "Peace & Sports Programme."
Ongwen works in the border region of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya and brings young warriors together to discuss their conflicts and find possible solutions. The local governments are plagued by international conflicts and nearly powerless. The lands are plagued by animal raiding between groups -- groups armed with guns. Many warriors carry their violent history in scars on their skin. Ambrose Ongwen's aim is to show the young warriors that sport is an alternative way to hero status. The motto of "Peace & Sports Programme" is: "Do not shoot and kill, but shoot and score."
Ongwen stresses that compassion is not passive but requires personal commitment. His nickname, Mister Nobody, comes from his oft-repeated saying: "No one will stop the looting of cattle. Nobody will bring you peace. You will have to do it." At right are players from opposing teams -- as one participant in the program remarked to the filmmakers: "When you play ou don’t recognize your enemy."
The work of Ambrose Ongwen is supported by Seeds of Peace Africa, IKV/Pax Christi and the Dutch Sport Alliance (NSA).