After spending time in East Africa over the summer, Ohio Wesleyan University student Sarah Johnston knew she wanted to help address the region’s daily battle with famine.
While there, the Delaware, Ohio, resident played soccer with the local children every day. The experience helped to hone her philanthropic goals.
“Although I wasn’t perfect picking up the local languages, the love for soccer was universal and one of those places where everyone was on the same level,” says Johnston, a pre-professional zoology major. “The people I met were probably the happiest people I have ever met despite the struggles they were facing. They truly lived each day to the fullest.”
This fall, Johnston shared her hope to help with several OWU friends including junior Sam Monebi of Nigeria, junior Clerel Djamen of Cameroon, and junior Iftekhar Showpnil of Bangladesh.
“A group of us have been playing soccer together since we met freshman year,” Johnston says. “We discussed the idea with some of our friends and their clubs/organizations … and the OWU World Cup – Soccer for Food was born.”
She also credits many volunteers with helping to organize the event, including senior Yavor Danailov of Bulgaria and junior Danyal Omar of Pakistan.
Johnston says the “world cup” concept was especially fitting for Ohio Wesleyan, which currently has students from nearly 60 countries. And the soccer just made it fun!
“Using soccer as a common ground between East African people and OWU community members [created] an enthusiastic event not an obligation,” she says.
The event, held Nov. 12-13, raised more than $1,000, which will be donated to CARE, one of the world’s largest private international humanitarian organizations.
“When I was in Africa, I had the chance to meet some people who worked with CARE, so I had some knowledge of the work they do for the people,” Johnston says.
“CARE is a leading humanitarian organization where over 99 percent of the donations actually go toward relief efforts. Individuals, especially children, who are suffering from malnutrition and medical problems are referred to supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs and stabilization units,” she explains. “Families are provided with emergency rations while awaiting access to general food distributions.”
(Photos by Matt Wasserman ’14)