Monday, July 13, 2009

Handicapped sports

I must confess that one of the most discouraging things to me about life here in Goma are the beggars. I just find it such a hopeless state of affairs. Sometimes I think of Mother Teresa, whose life and work I deeply admire, and I remind myself that she herself begged in the streets. So perhaps I am a bit too quick to judge.

But still I find it hard to stomach the begging, partly because it is so widespread. But more-so because it seems like such a denial of possibility. Often the people begging in the streets are handicapped people, offering their disability on display as a demand for compensation from people passing by. Often it is not their fault, this is the life they have been taught to live, and this is all they have been taught to expect.

But so much is possible.

The handicapped people I know are some of the strongest, most innovative people in the world.

Here is an example of exactly what is possible.

This is "Sitball", a version of handicapped volleyball. The rules are similar to volley ball, except of course that you can't stand.

The team here is composed of young men from Rwanda and Congo who have lost the use of one or both of their legs. They, with determination and humility, are changing the culture for handicapped people here. Mapendo, one of the SHONA women, is the only woman on the team. She is number 11.

So check out these young people, playing with all the determination in the world despite their handicaps, or perhaps because of them. It is not an easy game, and I am quite sure that every one of them would beat me if I were to have the courage to leave the sidelines.

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