Most children in the slums around the world have never heard of the Olympics, they don’t know who represents their country and they have never heard or seen most of the sports that take place at the Olympics, so this year we at the Chrysalis Centre decided we wanted to to bring some Olympic spirit to the Acholi Quarter, one of Kampala’s roughest slums and show some of the deprived children in this area some of the sports that children in other countries have a chance to do.
Francis Ssuuna (17) and Samuel Lubangakene (16) are members of the Butterfly Project, a project in Uganda to develop young social entrepreneurs from the slums of Kampala and remote rural village areas. Both are schooling in Kampala, but both come from remote villages. Samuel is an Acholi and was displaced to the Acholi Quarter in Kampala following the war. They are keen sportsmen and so they decided to bring some of the Olympics to the children living in the slums around where they live and so they built a torch and so the journey to the Slum Olympics has started.
The programme is still to be set, but as many sports as possible will be crammed in to the next two months prior to the real Olympics in London in August. The final event will be a Kids Marathon, which will be five laps of a track that Samuel developed through the slums. Francis had it officially measured by Uganda Athletics and so we know that five laps means 10,000m. The local kids are part of a running club called Project Circulate and they are the only youth-run running club in Uganda, possibly anywhere in the world. The kids run for orange squash and a biscuit, sometimes several times a day during the holiday periods, while Francis also teaches them how to stay healthy and what foods are good to eat. Food is hard to come by in the Acholi Quarter and so many children are tempted to eat food dropped on the ground or left in the scrap heap.
Many sports have been tried at the Chrysalis Centre, the Headquarters of the Butterfly Project, but for the Slum Olympics some new sports will be tried – volleyball, hockey, cycling time trial and maybe even judo! Each member of the club will take part for one of the countries in the Olympics – China, Russia, Britain, France, Kenya and many others. The scores for each country will be tallied and the winning team for the whole competition will receive prizes and medals.
On 10th May, the Olympic torch was lit and taken around the Acholi Quarter for all to see.
The whole Olympic coverage will be shown at the Chrysalis Centre during the Games and before then the children attending will be taught what events are their best chances – perhaps Kipsiro in the 3,000m steeplechase event. Many have potential in the longer istances, where some have been winning prizes in bug events this past year.
Project Circulate is run by Junior Athletics Coach Francis Ssuuna (17),Morrish Oceng (16) and Samuel Lubangakene (16) and each are learning how to create change in their communities through implementing social projects.
There is more information about the history of Project Circulate here.
For more information on the Slum Run FUndraiser click here
Watch this space – more photos to come…