On July 2, bright yellow and crisp white T-shirts marked two teams vying for a win on the soccer field.  For the second year, AFSC’s Dayton (Ohio) Refugee Justice Program sponsored a tournament for young refugees from Africa.  Their home countries include Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, Eritrea,  the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ghana.  More than 60 participants appreciated the opportunity to play their favorite sport and to share their experiences in the greater Dayton area. 

Many of the young people came to the United States from refugee camps, from harrowing civil conflict, and oppression.  Through AFSC’s program, they meet across ethnic and religious barriers as they adjust to new lives.  As one of the players said, “Six months ago, my family resettled in Dayton after a long time in a refugee camp in Ghana, West Africa.  I feel more hopeful now because AFSC’s staff has a compassionate attitude toward African refugee youth and young adults.  Many of them need this encouragement as they aren’t as lucky as I am to have family here.”

In addition to the soccer tournament, AFSC sponsors ongoing programs for the African young people.  They learn about civic responsibility, their civil rights, and get help with jobs so that they can earn a living.  As AFSC’s Migwe Kimemia noted, “The soccer tournament is just one positive way to engage these energetic young people.  They’ve survived many years of struggle for dignity and AFSC’s goal is to them become productive members of their new society.”