Sarah Buccarelli is a U.S. Fund for UNICEF intern presently supporting the sports partnerships department.
Congolese National Basketball Association star and Oklahoma City Thunder Forward Serge Ibaka recently visited his home country, Republic of Congo, to work with the young street children in Brazzaville.
|Serge Ibaka poses with children from his home country, Republic of Congo.|
Serge may already have eighteen siblings, but he is willing to extend his family even more. “I am your big brother now. I will be coming here every year to see how we can improve the situation.”
On his trip, Serge coordinated with the UNICEF Brazzaville office and visited two centers which open daily to serve the needs of the street children, Espace Jarrot and the all-girls center Action de Solidarite. These centers provide the children with basic human needs that are otherwise difficult for them to obtain. In addition they provide them with recreational facilities and opportunities for them to become reintegrated into society and school-systems.
With UNICEF support, a two-day table tennis tournament was organized in which 40 boys from the streets of Brazzaville competed. It was intended to draw attention to the growing number of street children in Congo and the challenges they face.
“For many young people sports is a door of opportunity and hope,” said Serge who can be seen as a great role model to the young children, considering that he was at one point in their shoes.
He faced many of the challenges that these kids are currently going through while he was growing up in Brazzaville. Serge’s story serves as a great example of how hard work and focus can allow you to follow your dreams and his visit was a great chance for these children to hear about it first-hand.
Serge’s good work will be continued as he is planning to start a project for street children in Brazzaville through UNICEF.