Balls Without Borders
Balls Without Borders formed in response to Iraq's national victory in the 2007 Asian Cup. As demonstrated, soccer has the capacity to bring people together. An independent international humanitarian organization, Balls Without Borders (BWB) delivers soccer balls to serve as a distraction for children affected by armed conflict and natural or man-made disasters, and in doing so bears witness publicly to the plight of the people we serve. A 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, it is a goal of Balls Without Borders (BWB) to use soccer as a common language to promote global peace, friendship, and cultural awareness.|
Preparing Shipments to:|
- Ma Afrika Tikkun Orphanages in South Africa
- Mathare Slums, Kenya
- Southern Sudan
Completed Shipments to:|
- UN Millenium Village in Dertu, Kenya
- Halabja, Iraq
- Fallujah, Iraq
- Al Anbar Provence, Iraq
- Kurdish Awazi Refugee Camp, Iraq-Jordan border
- Sheberghan, Afghanistan
- To children being raised in a Women's Prison in Herat, Afghanistan
- Boy's Orphanage in Mazar-e-Sfarif, Afghanistan
- Buhj, India
- Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic
- Daos Children's Center in Mombassa, Kenya
Where We Operate
BWB's decision to operate in any country or crisis is based solely on an independent assessment of people's needs. BWB.s military volunteers work in the most remote or dangerous parts of the world.
This operation is important now more than ever in the regions of Iraq and Afghanistan as the United States is leading the effort to rebuild infrastructure and stabilize dangerous regions. A gesture of goodwill and cultural understanding in the manner of handing out soccer balls to the youth encourages trust within the communities where so much violence rules daily life.
BWB seeks cooperative effort to win the hearts and minds of the children in the war torn regions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The current Iraq consensus estimates 39.4% of the population of Iraq and 44.6% of the population of Afghanistan is comprised of children aged 14 years and under. In the midst of turmoil created by war and nation re-building, the lives of disaffected children can find momentary relief from their inner turmoil if given the opportunity to play.
During this phase of the OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM reconstruction process, when men and women of the U.S. military hand a child from a war torn country a ball to play with, the gesture can be seen as a sign of peace and camaraderie; an olive branch extended to children who are so often overlooked in the process of stabilization and reconstruction.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common condition in both the children we aim to help, as well as the military personnel whom we depend on to the deliver the balls.
While we are pursuing our goal to make the lives of children affected by armed conflict or natural disasters happier and also to contribute to the well-being and understanding of veterans, our purpose also is to raise awareness of PTSD by contributing a percentage of our donations to the Scripps Veteran's Research Institute which specializes in the prevention, understanding, and treatment of PTSD. Contributions go to the beautification of the Healing Garden on the building's 2nd Floor Psychiatric Ward. Video footage coming soon.
Iraq-Jordan Refugee Camp
At an undisclosed location along the Iraq-Jordan border there is a Kurdish refugee camp filled with displaced Iraqis in existence now for two years. Team Leader Major Brian Dennis and his team of Special Operations Marines are fielding operations to stem the flow of weapons into the hands of terrorists. Along their route they stumbled onto this camp and found desperate kids; so happy to see the Americans. "They lit up like Christmas trees when we gave them our pop-tarts and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)". Noting their lack of toys and soccer balls in particular, Major Dennis conveyed the need and requested that soccer balls be sent over. Thus, Balls Without Borders began.
In October 2007 balls donated by the Los Angeles-based Real So. Cal Soccer Club reached USMC HMM-268 Red Dragons in Al-Taqaddum, Iraq. Overnight, Executive Officer Major Edward Jeep flew them out to Colonel William McCollough, a tribal engagement officer in Northern Iraq.|
In Iraq, Col. McCullough made headlines for being instrumental in staging a soccer tournament last week in conjunction with the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports.
On March 16, 1988 the people of Halabja suffered the worst chemical attacks committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. On that day, 5000 civilians, 75% women and children, immediately perished.
Watch the video on the right to understand why Balls Without Borders is interested in helping the children growing up in Halabja.
A video of Halabja today
Ryan Tomaszewski turned 5 years old this year. In lieu of gifts on his birthday, this extraordinary young man wanted to do something that would help his heroes, the American soldiers, as well as children living in poverty around the world. Being that he loves the game of soccer, young Ryan requested that his friends bring soccer balls to his birthday party. In turn, he donated them to Balls Without Borders.
In early 2008, a Blackwater Commando contacted BWB to send soccer balls to his unit to distribute to the children they encounter on their patrol. He described what a hardship it was on their unit to keep kids from playing in dangerous areas they shouldn't be, such as insurgent zones and scrap metal yards. We sent him the balls donated by young Ryan Tomaszewski. Upon delivering the balls he wrote, "I wish I had ten thousand to hand out. I've never seen the kids this happy. They were ecstatic!" We now ship to 3 Blackwater units that operate in big cities such as Heart and Kabul, as well as very remote regions such as Sheberghan, Mazar-e-sharif and the Hindu-Kush mountainside of Afghanistan.
Balls Without Borders has partnered with the United Nations' Millennium Village Project in their endeavor to eradicate disease and poverty from Africa. We started in Dertu, Kenya; the village with the most extreme situation.|
Project manager, Ian Z. describes an enthusiastic welcome provided by the people of Dertu. While the intended purpose of UNMV project was to provide medical training of course, it was the sports equipment - Ian describes - that received the more boisterous reception by the youth of the village.
A video tour of the village and meeting with the elders (provided by Ian)