31 July 2012
The Homeless World Cup partner in Zimabwe, Youth Achievement Sports for Development (YASD), recently reported on its work in the city of Hatcliffe – using street soccer to help young homeless people change their lives.
The people of Hatcliffe are still recovering from the effects of Operation Clean Up (Murambatsvina) in 2005, when the government demolished “informal housing” (shanty towns) across Zimbabwe. According to international and local humanitarian organisations, the operation affected nearly three million people in the country’s major cities and rendered most of them homeless.
“This is what we believe in, we believe we can change the community we live in,” said YASD coordinator Petros Chatiza, during a recent Food for Thought session at the US Embassy in Harare, where Chatiza was joined by colleague Wilbert Nzuma, liaison officer at YASD, to describe their work in Hatcliffe.
“There were discussions of how the operations had affected the people, what could be done after the evictions, and how they would talk to the government to limit the consequences of the operation,” said Chatiza.
Soon after Operation Clean Up, a theatre initiative called Bornfree produced a play called Tongombeya (a word that means “wanderers”) to talk about the 2005 evictions, with affected youth making up the cast.
Another result was a YASD street soccer initiative for homeless people, enabling hundreds of local youths to rub shoulders with professional players like former Zimbabwe international and national team soccer player Joel Luphahla.
One of the local players, Moreblessing Gwauya, said: “I didn’t have any meaning for my own life, if it wasn’t for YASD.”
Zimbabwe first took part in the Homeless World Cup in 2008 when the tournament was held in Melbourne, Australia, and is one of the teams heading for Mexico City this year (October 6-14). YASD is based in Harare and works to support homeless youth.