Soccer Balls for Syrian Refugees

Score a Goal with Heart to Heart International.
Healing kids through play.

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Heart to Heart International has been sending supplies and hygiene items to refugees in some of the most precarious positions of the world for years. We simply could not just look away.

With more than 60 million people, mostly women and children, displaced from their homes around the world, we knew this was a crisis we could not ignore,” Jim Mitchum, HHI CEO, said.

While traditionally known for providing disaster relief, Heart to Heart International’s mission has always been to create a healthier world, and this includes mental health. Children constitute 51 percent of refugees, and these children have been traumatized by the loss of their homes, their communities and even their families. Research shows that play is critical to physical, social, and emotional development, especially for kids living in challenging circumstances.

“We have been providing humanitarian aid in the form of medicines, hygiene supplies and tents for years, but that still was not addressing the fundamental need for these children to be children. These children are living in tremendously difficult conditions for the sole reason that they were born in a particular part of the world. We are not going to ignore the needs of these children,” Mitchum said.

In March of 2018, HHI sent 500 unpoppable soccer balls from One World Play Project to a refugee camp in Syria. These ultra-durable balls are perfect for the difficult and harsh conditions children face in refugee camps.

“For refugee youth and adults living in exile, play builds community, empowers individuals, creates joy and helps keep hope and optimism alive,” Lisa Tarver, co-founder and chief impact officer, One World Play Project, said.

The average duration of exile for refugees is more than a decade.

“It has been proven that play improves mental and emotional well-being, especially in those who have experienced trauma. With these unpoppable soccer balls, these children, many of whom cannot remember a time where they didn’t live in a refugee camp, have the chance to play and receive all the benefits that play provides,” Mitchum said. “If sending One World Futbols across the ocean helps these children deal with their situations, how could we not do it?”

The balls were received with much enthusiasm, and immediately after the balls were unpacked, the children began PLAYING.
The shipment was such a success, HHI wants to send more balls to more children in more refugee camps. Help us continue giving children a chance to be kids.

Children living in refugee camps have lived through more hardship in their lives than most people will ever know.  And yet even after it all, these kids are still kids.

And kids need play.

While traditionally known for providing disaster relief, Heart to Heart International’s mission has always been to create a healthier world, and this includes mental health. Today’s refugee camps are home to millions of children who have lived through traumas that can cause them to become anxious, nervous, withdrawn and angry. Heart to Heart International wants to help these children. And one thing has been proven to help children cope with their emotions.


MLV_EkoSoccer-22-238x175In fact, play is so critical to child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.

“Play is the same across cultures, across languages, across developmental stages; it is the natural medium of communication,” Rebeca Chow, Assistant Professor of the Counselor Education Program at MidAmerica Nazarene University and volunteer for Heart to Heart International, said. “It allows an opportunity for resiliency by allowing children to focus on the present. When you are playing a soccer match, you are not thinking of the traumas of your past or the worries of the future, but just on the present moment of kicking a ball. And, when you can complete the game, it gives you confidence to continue on in life.”

21753293_1647899565234731_3549086640380274044_oEven in places where children have nothing, they play games by throwing rocks or kicking rag balls. “Across continents, every culture that we know of has a ball,” Chow said. “You can kick it, throw it – there is no right or wrong way to use it.”

Heart to Heart International wants to provide these children with more than rag balls. We have partnered with One World Play Project, an organization that produces ultra-durable soccer balls perfect for the difficult and harsh conditions children face in refugee camps.

We have an initial goal of sending 500 of these balls to children in Syrian refugee camps. We believe all children deserve to feel safe, secure and happy. We think you believe this, too.  Help us bring the healing power of play to these children. Join our team, and together we can score our first goal!

Are you looking for a fundraiser activity for your youth soccer team? This would be a perfect chance to combine your team’s love of soccer with an opportunity to give back to other children in need.

Download this flyer to help kick off your fundraising efforts!

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Photos: One World Play Project