Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Fundraising in London

Our lads brave the capital for a final fund-raising experience before we head off.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Why West Africa? Why now? Why you?


Earlier in June the World was watching Africa with expectation and excitement. Africa’s World Cup captured the commercial imagination of the World. Everybody remembers ‘that’ epic Nike advert that most of its stars ‘Rooney, Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Drogba’ will want to forget. The music and atmosphere at the World Cup declared that ’Africa is open for business’. However, with the World Cup Circus having packed up and on the road the aftermath of failure does not not belong to Rooney, Ronaldo, Messi or the English press it belongs to all of us.

Development is failing: We are failing.

In 2000 the development of Africa was at the top of the international agenda. The UN Global Compact launched in 2000 and the Millennium goals were statements of intent. Since the campaign for international development launched in 2000 there has been mixed results. Despite unprecedented growth in some regions and increased investment in both portfolio equity and foreign direct investment the big development push has still not utilised Africa’s potential and has correllated with increased inequality and poverty particularly in West Africa. The poor are getting poorer. Development is failing. We are failing.

Future Business

The nature of development means that it cannot be solely discussed in the present. Development is future business. This is why students have an important place within the debate. The problems and constraints on development require a need for cross cultural dialogue, an exchange of experience and ideas, and the commitment of tomorrow’s decision makers. The vision of Beyond Borders is for tomorrow’s writers, academics, businessman, and policy makers in the UK to understand the issues and lives at local level to break down the barriers that prevent us from learning and maintaining sustainable development. We also need to stand in support and solidarity with grass roots African political activists that are fighting for growth to be filtered through to the poorest and are resisting the exploitation of Africa’s resources against the interests of African’s.

The World Cup failed but Football can still be a vehicle for change

Through education and extra-curricular mediums of literature, sport, and art, development can be returned to the peak of international agenda. We will use football not as a vehicle of exploitation but as a vehicle for change. During the past 100 years the provision, access, and control of football space became a crucial site of struggle between Africans and the local political authorities. It has become a political instrument, and to this day provides a contrast to the usual pictures of a pitiful and lost continent.

A new story for West Africa

We want to be a part of the writing of a new West African story through meeting and learning with the regions students, activists, grass roots communities, and volunteering with projects in building infrastructure, supporting families, and making physical and financial investments.

There is a need to create a network of, archives, historians, academics, and students to unearth new and untold stories. The tour will be championing a new story for the region and a part of creating this network, which has a five year goal to expand beyond West Africa to the entire region. The dialogue between students in West Africa’s leading universities with students from London’s leading universities is uniting academic metro poles to challenge the single story of Africa and write a new future into existence.

We need you

Beyond Borders is maintained solely upon those who believe in our mission.

We still have a significant financial deficit to honour the African families and communities that we have planned to join.

We need those who support our vision to turn this support into a minimum donation of £5.00.

Please donate at the side.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Being The New Guy

I first met Toib, Jasper, Alex and Erhan in October of last year, at the trials for the University of London representative side (ULFC). My memories of the day are bit of a blur now, the effect of a mixture of nerves, anticipation and the overwhelming amount of new people to meet (and try to remember the names of!).

However, one thing that does stick out in my mind was a brief conversation I had with the SOAS attendees whilst warming up. After the usual pleasantries I noticed the Beyond Borders logo on their track tops, and we got to talking about their recently completed tour of Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. Apart from the fact that just the idea of a month-long football tour of the Middle East sounded like absolute heaven to me, what struck me was the passion that all four of them clearly felt for the tour they had just returned from. It was a mental note that stayed at the forefront of my mind, perhaps powered by the massive amounts of jealousy I felt at their having such an experience. The more I learnt about last year’s tour from the guys, the more jealous I became, as it was clearly a once in a lifetime experience, both in sporting terms and in terms of having such a great opportunity to experience and interact with Middle Eastern culture.

So when Toib explained to me that this year they were planning a second Beyond Borders event in Africa, and that there were spaces available, I made sure he knew how much I wanted to go straight off the bat! And when he confirmed that Dillon Chapman (also from Goldsmiths) and myself were in the tour party, I was made up.

Any doubts or worries I might have had about the tour or about fitting in with the group have long gone by now, as the tour preparations are well underway. Getting to know the other guys has been a particularly enjoyable and easy experience, which is not always the case when coming into a new team from outside. Goldsmiths and SOAS seem to tread similar ethical paths, and the philosophy of the trip is certainly one that I, as well as all the other tour members, share, but it has been a relief to have fitted in so easily.

Knowing a few of the guys beforehand helped, but the main reason for the smoothness of the transition has been the welcoming attitudes of all of the other tour members. Every member to a man has been great at making the effort to make myself and Dillon feel part of the project and at ease. With a month to go, I already feel comfortable within the tour group, and I’m sure by the end of the trip we’ll all be even closer. In fact, we’ll probably all need a bit of a break from each other after that amount of time in shared company!

I can’t wait for September 1st, I’m so glad to be sharing this unique opportunity with this group of guys, and I really hope that our going out there will not only be a great personal experience for us, but will be a benefit to the region and people we are visiting