King's Academy, November 16, 2008—King’s Academy students and faculty conducted the second soccer camp this year for young Iraqi refugee girls living in Zarqa, Jordan yesterday.
Eight students and six faculty members arrived at the camp equipped with soccer balls, English books and box lunches for the three-hour session, and were greeted by 40 girls ranging in age from five to 15 years of age.
After arriving at “Terre des Hommes” in Zarqa, the volunteers played a game of tag with the refugee girls to warm up. The girls were randomly split up into different teams in an effort to foster teamwork and encourage the formation of new relationships. The morning’s activities included practicing fun passing and shooting drills and a round robin tournament. After a well-deserved lunch, the girls played clapping and singing games followed by a reading session to help improve the English skills of the Iraqi students.
When it was time to depart, the bonds which had formed between the two groups over the course of the day could easily be seen. The Iraqi girls eagerly asked the volunteers to return soon, and followed the King’s Academy bus out of the center waving and shouting their heartfelt goodbyes.
This community outreach program, called Reclaim Childhood, was launched in the summer of 2008 by Anouk Dey, a Williams College student. Dey had received a Davis Project for Peace grant of $10,000 to hold a summer camp for Iraqi refugee girls. Dey lived on the King’s Academy campus in July and August, and traveled each afternoon to Zarqa to hold four week-long camps. Every day, several King’s Academy students and Student Life Asisstant Nart Abdi, accompanied Dey to Zarqa, serving as translators and camp counselors.
Reclaim Childhood has now been instituted as a weekly community service program at King’s Academy.
The Academy intends to keep this initiative active as the program develops and camps expand to reach more underprivileged refugee children living in Jordan.