Every one of our friends has a story worth sharing. Here are just a few.
1. Poverty is the lack of hope.
"Poverty is the lack of hope not possessions," our dear friend Nelly taught us. Nelly N'joki Kagoro is one of the sweetest and most dynamic personalities we've had the pleasure of calling our friend. Her smile and laugh will instantly transform your day.
She grew up in the slums of Kenya with not much in the form of tangible possessions. The issue of finding food and water was familiar to her, but did not define her.
She was able to attend University and has since devoted her efforts to making sure others in her community realize they have a path and future filled with hope as well.
Nelly describes true poverty as a lack of hope, because without the hope of change, it's harder to create the will to fight through the normal daily shortages. With hope in the heart, the food in the belly seems fuller.
Meeting Nelly was one of the most eye opening relationships we have encountered. Through supporting her efforts and aiding in her commitment to teaching, we have seen lives changed by her love.
Currently, we partner with Nelly to support a Saturday teaching to the youth in her community where attendance is from 60-75 children.
2. Gēgē, older brother.
We met Zhou Jun when he was an unassuming college student from Honghe University selected to take part in the 2007 Chinese Exchange program with Inter-United Soccer Club.
During this three week exchange in the USA, he received hands on soccer training with and teaching skills through Inter-United.
He was selected to return to the U.S. for a six month work program in which he received additional experience as a soccer coach, training under some of the best coaches and trainers in Central FL.
Zhou Jun returned to Qujing, China, where he began developing his own successful soccer programs at local schools and serving the young players in his hometown.
Dan - Zhou Jun's English name - is lovingly referred to as gēgē (Chinese for older brother). To this day, he is still remembered by Inter-United staff and friends as everyone's 'big brother' because of his sincere and caring nature. He was (IS!) always willing to lend a helping hand wherever needed.
Working hard to polish his soccer skills and English speaking - our Director lovingly remembers his first email as simply, "Hi. I'm Dan!" - Dan served as a translator for iU teams that later travelled to China for educational exchanges.
With Inter-United members traveling back and forth to China regularly, Dan always makes time to see his American family.
His dedication to the youth shines through and Inter-United could not be more proud of his work.
Currently, Dan is serving as a collegiate coach at Yuxi Normal University in Yuxi, Yunnan, China - a highly esteemed position.
3. Our dear Francette
Francette, our sweet friend, is the smiling face known around town in Petit Goâve, Haiti.
Talk about having a presence - when Francette is around, you feel like everything is peaceful. She has a gentle spirit that leads the way.
She is the primary caretaker at the Happy House in Haiti - one of Inter-United's international partners serving the youth and providing a safe haven in Petit Goâve.
When iU visits, we stay at the Happy House with our friends and support the amazing work they do mentoring youth in the neighboring communities.
Francette partakes in the vocational training we offer through our sister company Raggamuffin. She is supported through fair wages and a sustainable income.
We have seen her flourish in learning the creative skills, but also in her role as a mentor.
She constantly pours into the younger children who look up to her.
Francette is an excellent example of our vision for investing in individual hearts and relationships first so they can in turn invest in others.