The Uganda Connection
St. Kizito Primary School students smile with appreciation for the jerseys and soccer balls donated by Mike Schade, the head coach for Sunny Hills' boys soccer team. (Reprinted with permission from Father Raphael Ddamba)

Imagine going to a school where funding is so scarce that the school cannot provide for the students’ sportswear and equipment. For many in America, it is hard to picture. Unfortunately, it is the reality for many across several Third World nations.

Take the St. Kizito Primary School in the Mpigi District in central Uganda. It’s about 9,000 miles from Fullerton, and it is known for its many poverty-stricken students from kindergarten to seventh grade.

The school works to give students better chances at healthier lives, said the Rev. Raphael Ddamba, who grew up in this area and experienced the perils of poverty there firsthand. This prompted the Catholic priest to find ways to help this school since 2013.

“The hope is that at least each year, I can lift up a few kids at a time from the potential lives of illiteracy and poverty to greater lives,” Ddamba said.

Sunny Hills’ boys soccer head coach Mike Schade met the minister through Schade’s attendance of Sunday mass at the St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, where Ddamba works as a chaplain.
The science teacher learned from a Sunny Hills alumnus and parish member around April 2018 that Ddamba was going back to Uganda to help out.

“I asked [him] if he would be interested in soccer stuff, and he said that [the school] would love it,” Schade said.

For the 34 years as head soccer coach, whenever his squads received new jerseys every two to four years, Schade has always tried to donate the previous uniforms to various groups that need them.

So this time around, the coach decided to give 11 members of the Ugandan team 40 old soccer jerseys and two used soccer balls delivered by Ddamba on July 20 of last year.

Ddamba said while they had the SH soccer jerseys, most of the athletes did not have any shoes because they could not afford them. That need still needs to be met.

“With regards to shoes, maybe we can follow in the footsteps of TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, and donate a pair of soccer cleats every time a player buys a new pair of cleats,” Schade said. “We would like to do that.”

Meanwhile, St. Kizito principal Mukasa Joseph Balikuddembe sent a thank-you letter to the soccer team dated July 26, 2018. One part of it reads:
“The soccer uniforms arrived at the time our school soccer team was to compete with other schools.

I am happy to inform you that our school team emerged [as] the champions of 2018 in all the categories.

We are indeed very grateful for everything.

May God bless you and reward you abundantly.”

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