MADOLENIHMW HIGH SCHOOL - POHNPEI, MICRONESIA
The first ISMP project was inspired by a group of kids living about 6 degrees above the equator and roughly halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines on a small island called Pohnpei, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. On Pohnpei, there is a rural municipality called Madolenihmw, and at Madolenihmw High School, the students LOVE basketball.
The difficulty is that the MHS students need proper equipment in order to maintain their team: they need new basketballs to practice with, basketball sneakers to avoid foot injuries, and jerseys and tournament/transportation fees so that they can compete against other teams in Micronesia.
How much do these kids love basketball? So much that while we were still fundraising (before sneakers and jerseys arrived), kids would opt out of their bus ride home just so that they could come to practice. That's not a small sacrifice when you practice barefoot on concrete for two hours and then need to walk back to your village 5-10 miles away afterwards. The kids didn't care - they just wanted to play.
Since 2014, ISMP supports boys and girls basketball teams at Madolenihmw High School every year by providing them with the equipment they need to play regularly and to compete against other students in Micronesia. The goal is to get these passionate and basketball-loving students to play basketball safely and with pride. In a world that can be difficult to cope with at times, becoming part of a basketball team can have a transformative impact for a child. No one should be turned away from the game of basketball because they don't have a pair of sneakers.
CPAJ Child Rehab Center - Kigali, Rwanda
The Centre Presbytérien d’Amour des Jeunes (CPAJ) in Kigali, Rwanda is a rehabilitation center for orphans and homeless children that was created in the wake of the devastating Rwanda Genocide to help the new population of highly vulnerable children. CPAJ focuses on keeping children healthy, happy, safe, educated and ready for the world.
ISMP has partnered with CPAJ to create music classes for the kids. Each morning and afternoon, kids sit with volunteer teachers and learn how to play guitar and piano. As classes have progressed, you can find increasingly more kids using the guitars in their free time, outside of the formal classes. Life is not always easy for kids at CPAJ, but the music classes help allow them to enjoy themselves, be creative, and feel more confident.
Ritsona Refugee Camp - Ritsona,Greece
Conflicts around the world, most notably the Syrian Civil War, have left many people with no choice but to flee on a boat and hope they arrive somewhere safely. Many of these people arrived at Ritsona Camp in Greece. But in doing so, family members were killed, homes were destroyed, and futures became uncertain.
Refugees are receiving basic needs such as food, water and medicine, but they lack expressive outlets and opportunities to get away from the despair. That's why ISMP is providing music classes and soccer equipment at Ritsona. Being part of a music class or soccer team allows Ritsona residents to enjoy themselves and to focus their attention, energy and emotions on something constructive and fulfilling. In this way, we provide necessary psychological relief to people who are not given much emotional support despite dealing with significant trauma the significant trauma they face every day.
Helping refugees is about more than just providing enough food and medicine to survive. It also involves helping people find ways to continue enjoying life. This is a major challenge when you're trying to help a child who has lost his/her family and home, as so many of these children have. Soccer games and music lessons give people something to look forward to, an outlet to turn to as a means of getting away from the immense pain that people are feeling. Soccer provides some semblance of normalcy in a world that can feel unhinged. Being part of a soccer team can restore pride and dignity, can build hope and confidence, and can allow people a few moments of peace.
Covenant House - New York, New York
ISMP's newest partnership is a sports and music program at Covenant House in New York City. Covenant House started over 40 years ago when a few young teens had nowhere to go in the midst of a blizzard. Today, Covenant serves as a shelter for homeless youth across the city and in other locations across the country.
We're thrilled to be starting our first partnership right here in our own backyard. We're particularly excited that the youth at Covenant are so passionate about sports and music (who isn't?!). To match the interests of the teens at Covenant, this program will be comprised of basketball clinics and guitar lessons. We are also exploring other ways of creating sports and music opportunities at Covenant.