The Faces Behind Kick it with Kenya


Michele O'Connell-Fujii

Michele, 27, grew up in Poulsbo, WA.  In June 2008 she graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors of Science in Human Physiology.  

Michele first traveled to Kenya in the summer of 2007.  There she volunteered at Mama Maria Clinic, Muhuru Bay Health Center, Senye Primary School and Namunyak Maasai and was inspired and touched by everyone she met.  To her, not being able to drink the water and sleeping under a mosquito net was a huge adjustment and teaching a class with 120 young kids with one other teacher was a shock.  But when everyone was so happy and hopeful with no electricity, no running water, and medications only part of the time, she truly realized how much the little things in life actually matter.  But the one thing she did realize was that if the local high school was having a riot, the kids played soccer instead of going to class; if the health center closed for the day because of no electricity, everyone went to play soccer; and when there were no soccer balls, kids tied up plastic bags with twine and played soccer.   

When she returned home she was determined to help with projects and health care efforts in anyway possible so she's kept her connections with Village Volunteers and the people she met volunteering in Kenya.  The idea of connecting and educating youth through sports is nothing new, and Kick it with Kenya was created as a way to bring Kenyan youth together and providing them with resources they need to be leaders.

Michele returned to Kenya in August 2008 when the first Kick it with Kenya conference took place. She's worked closely with Charles to create, organize, and prepare Kick it with Kenya as they share similar dreams and hopes for the people of Kenya.  The turnout was more then expected when thousands came out to watch the youth soccer games.  And hundreds of youth joined in educational activities on numerous health issues.  The community came out for medical exams and inexpensive medications and treatments.  It was so successful that it was clear that we needed to do this every year and eventually branch out to other village communities.

Charles Wambulwa

Charles Wambulwa calls Kitale, Kenya his home. After high school he took 2 years to volunteer in Nairobi spending 1 year at the organization The President's Award Scheme (aka The duke of Edinburgh Award) where he worked as an assessor with the responsibility to work with high school students who were in the program. He organized expeditions and exploration for these participants where they traveled to different parts of the country in form of educational adventures. The other year was spent teaching at Sikinwa High School based on Mt. Elgon where he taught biology, chemistry and social studies and also coached track and field. Thereafter he joined Bethune Cookman University in Florida to study liberal arts but ended up graduating with a BS majoring in Biology.  He then attended medical school at Howard University.  

Last year he traveled back to Kenya. What he saw was too many people dying from preventable diseases such as typhoid, HIV, diarrhea and more.  He also noticed idleness among youth of the communities.  Charles was inspired to help his home country with prevention methods for diseases instead of just treatment.  He also wants to show that there is an effective way to reach the public and decrease idleness among youth. He wanted to use soccer, an extremely popular sport, as the tool to reach youth from different areas bringing the idea of a soccer tournament as part of the conference.

Charles traveled to Kenya in April and May 2008 for a medical mission and to start the youth soccer tournament games.  He visited numerous areas visiting and treating patients, met with the Ministry of Health, worked with many pastors to start the youth conference on the ground. 

Read his mission summary here: Medical Mission Report.