It was a win-win-win.
The audience at the Salmar Classic was enthusiastic, the documentary filmmaker and her fellow travellers were pleased, and the subjects of the film, girls in a Kenyan village, were excited by their experience.
On Monday, Dec. 23, Libby Olson held a pre-screening of a documentary she filmed during a visit to Akonjo Village with Kairo and Lizzy Mair in February. The three women from Salmon Arm went to east Africa to provide a weeklong soccer camp to girls, with sports being the traditional domain of boys.
Money raised from the by-donation pre-screening was sent to Akonjo to pay for a girls’ soccer tournament there.
“We were overwhelmed over how many people showed up,” remarked Kairo after the screening, adding that the main objective was to be able to show supporters how things went in the village and to thank them all.
“We coudn’t have done it without everybody’s help and support.”
With the project being community based, Libby said it was exciting to see a large part of that community watching the film at the Salmar and being able to say, ‘hey, I donated $50 for some jerseys – oh, there’s the jerseys…’
“They can see where their money was going and how they were helping…,” Libby said.
Lizzy, who has been an instructor with Girls Only Soccer School for more than 20 years, remembers thinking in 2010 that it would be great to offer a girls soccer camp in Akonjo Village. At that time Jimmy Ouma Okello from Akonjo was visiting Salmon Arm, thanks to an exchange created by him and Cathy Stubington of Runaway Moon Theatre. Part of the exchange included banners made in both Salmon Arm and Akonjo, each supporting girls’ soccer in the other’s community.
The idea of a soccer camp in Akonjo fit well with both Libby and Kairo, as both have had a passion for soccer since they were little. Also, Kairo was taking development studies at the University of Calgary, while Libby was working on her motion picture arts degree at Capilano University in North Vancouver.
Through the initial cultural exchange begun over 10 years ago, money was raised to ultimately put 16 Akonjo girls through secondary school, so they could escape the fate of having to get married and become mothers at a young age. The hope now is to sponsor more girls.
After the screening, Lizzy remarked: “Going forward, we want to promote it so that people will now see the girls we want to sponsor. They’re on that screen. They’re real people, they’ve got needs, and those are the ones you can sponsor – and they’ll be going to school and it will make a huge difference.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the Akonjo Project or sponsoring a girl through secondary school, email Kairo at: email@example.com.