„Lernnetzwerk Donauraum“ – Salim aus München über seine Zeit in Tschechien

My name is Salim, I am 21 years old and at home in Munich. I first got to know KICKFAIR at my school in 2012 and since then I have developed in various roles and tasks, learning a lot about myself, other people, and KICKFAIR’s partner organizations. In the summer, I now had the opportunity to be part of an international Youth Leader delegation at a camp of FOTBAL PRO ROZVOJ in the Czech Republic.
KICKFAIR and FOTBAL PRO ROZVOJ are both NGOs that work with children and young people in socially disadvantaged and difficult circumstances. They try to support them in their everyday life in order to master different challenges. That is why I took the opportunity to participate in the summer camp and be part of the diversity team with members from all over the world: Cambodia, Colombia, Mexico, France and Germany.
I would like to tell you about a special day of my 2-week stay in the Czech Republic. About a day when I work with people in wheelchairs for the first time.
On the one hand I am very happy to meet them, but at the same time I have many questions and maybe I am afraid of doing something wrong. I do not really know how to deal with them. So, I start the day with mixed feelings.
In our morning routine I meet with the other international Youth Leaders and the team of FOTBAL PRO ROZVOJ at 9:00 AM to discuss the details. As I enjoy preparing and implementing workshops as a Youth Leader at KICKFAIR, I have joined the group that is planning the street soccer activities for and with people in wheelchairs.
In order to empathize even more with people with disabilities before planning a workshop for them, we played different energizer games, that help simulating the feeling of not being able to use every part of your body. For example, we played “Evolution Football”, a game where everybody starts on four limbs and in case you score a goal, you reach the next level and proceed on two feet. If you score a second goal you are also allowed to run fast. After such games we always form a small circle for reflection. There we give the participants an opportunity to interpret what they think about the game and where it could have a connection with real life.
Then we are prepared and ready to leave the accommodation in Ostrava.
After arriving at a location where a club for helping people with physical and mental impairment is based, we were welcomed in a very friendly manner, and a lot of food and drinks were waiting for us. The atmosphere was very pleasant, we introduced ourselves and exchanged thoughts and feelings. The discussion made me more comfortable, because I learned that the participants just wanted to be treated in a normal way, and master many of their daily challenges by themselves. After the first contact I lost my restraint, and we went outside to do the activities with them.
We had a lot of challenges because the weather was really hot and I don’t speak Czech except being able to count up to ten, and say things like “dobrý den”, “ahoj”, “jak se máš” and “jak se jmenuješ”, which only means “hello”, “bye”, “how are you” and so on. So, my Czech friend Roman translated for me. But after a short time, we could understand each other without words. The man in wheelchair led by me gave me hand signals how to go through slaloms and other activities, or he just laughed so I knew everything was okay and I could go on. It made me very happy to see that everybody had fun and laughed a lot. In the reflection circle we had another conversation about how they liked it and what they wished us to improve the next time. Some football lovers wanted to do more activities with the ball. Finally, they had a wish: It was a very special moment when they suggested to make head balls. It was amazing because at first some of them were afraid to hurt themselves, but we just exchanged the ball with a softer one to overcome their fears.

It was a beautiful day of my life full of new experiences. So, I learned that at the beginning it is normal to be afraid of something new, or of meeting new people. Now I consider meeting new people or learning something new as a chance to enrich my life.
Thank you FOTBAL PRO ROZVOJ for 17 wonderful days!