There are some conversations that can change your life. The idea for today’s organization was spurred by one such conversation on a street in Tanzania.
Alive & Kicking’s late founder, Jim Cogan OBE, saw a man on the side of a road stitching a ball, stopped to talk to him and the concept for Alive & Kicking was born.
The vision of Alive & Kicking is an Africa where every child can play with a real ball, where thousands of jobs are sustained in the production of balls for previously unemployed adults, and where sport contributes to the eradication of deadly disease. To realize this vision, they are establishing stitching centers in disadvantages areas in African countries. They employ local adults at a fair wage to hand stitch footballs, volleyballs, and other sport balls from local leather.
Some of the hand-stitched balls are sold in local retail outlets or online, with proceeds being reinvested in social outreach and employee programs. The rest of the balls are donated to local schools and projects that cannot afford to purchase them.
This already sounds like a great program, but Alive & Kicking also prints simple messages on all their balls about diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and TB to act as prompts for teachers and coaches. The children can then be taught about the difficult topic of disease through sport.
The organization currently has two stitching centers, one in Lusaka, Zambia and the other in Nairobi, Kenya employing 150 adults between them. Both centers operate as not-for-profit businesses with all surpluses being reinvested in further charitable activities and employee welfare. The organization also hopes to open a third stitching center in West Africa in 2011. In addition, there is an office located in London where they created an educational program that is focuses on teaching young people about issues in international development and global citizenship. They even created a series of lesson plans which integrate Alive & Kicking’s work into the school curriculum that has been adopted by over 20 youth groups and schools in London.
In addition, in Kenya, Alive & Kicking has produced a set of HIV/AIDS awareness posters featuring African sports stars warning young people of the dangers of contracting HIV. These have been distributed to every secondary school in Kenya. A similar program is being launched in Zambia in partnership with the Ministry of Education.
How can you help?
- Buy a hand-stitched ball for yourself at their website.
- You can also donate a ball to a school, orphanage, refugee camp or youth project in Africa. You will even be sent information on who receives it.
- If you happen to be near one of the stitching centers in Africa, you can visit to see how a ball is made (or for most people…you can watch a video of the balls being made here).
- You can also spread the word about the Alive & Kicking mission by sharing this blog post!