Gloria and Phiona are role models in Uganda, an inspiration to many young players, especially the young chessplayers back in Gulu who speak of them fondly and aspire to be like them. Phiona is the “Queen of Katwe” in the upcoming Disney movie, which was inspired by her life. Gloria will be representing Uganda in the upcoming FIDE World Youth and Cadet Championship which takes place in Greece from Oct. 24 – Nov. 6, 2015.
Through the efforts of the “Sports Outreach Organization” and the Social Action Commission General Secretary,Robert Katende, FIDE has been able to develop a program in five centers for children who live in extreme poverty conditions.
Gulu is a city in Northern Uganda that was impacted by war. Most people live from agriculture in conditions that are below the poverty line. There is no electricity or running water, however, efforts from the government and non-profit organizations such as “Sports Outreach” have made access to water possible by constructing wells within communities.
Women and children are often the only ones seen walking long distances to carry much needed water back home; the water is transported in plastic jugs carefully balanced on their heads.
The beautiful children of Gulu opened their hearts to chess and we are hoping that through this initiative we can empower them to embrace education and good decision making skills.
The only way that we can transform these children’s lives is by providing educational and social programs. In Uganda education can be costly for people who are struggling to feed their families. Above the 6th grade level, education needs to be paid for; we want to give these children a chance by connecting them with people who can help pay for their education.
The Social Action Commission and Beatriz Marinello would like to reach out to people with good hearts from around the world that are willing to help sponsor a child who desperately needs help to pay for their education and boarding schools.
We met one young girl in the ‘Smart Girl’ Program who was no longer in school because her family could no longer afford the school’s fee, however, she never missed her chess class.
She said, “I never miss chess. I hope that one day I can continue with my school studies. But, for now, I at least have the game of chess.”
Beatriz greets a chessplayer’s mother in Kampala, Uganda
After traveling 14 hours by car, Beatriz insisted on visiting the kids despite the long hours traveling. If the children were waiting for her, she was not going to let them down.
Beatriz Marinello and Robert Katende, speak with the mothers of girls in the “Smart Girl” program about their progress in chess and tournament participation.
Beatriz goes over game strategy with the young chessplayers in Kampala, some of whom are already playing in National Tournaments despite their challenges.
We arrived at the Chess Academy in the heart of the slums in Kampala. Resources are scarce, but, that doesn’t stop young chess players from focusing on their game. At times many players spend 5 hours a day at the Academy; it has become a safe haven for the kids.
Shown below is Richard, playing a game with Beatriz. Richard is a tall and talented 14 year old player, unbeknownst to him, he is playing the game of his life. He doesn’t know it yet, but, Beatriz Marinello has personally agreed to sponsor him and pay for the cost of 4 years of school for him.
The children used to share chess sets or take turns in order to play due to the lack of equipment. We are pleased that this is no longer the case. Apart from the sets the Social Action Commission gave the centers, our Chairperson facilitated a donation of 54 sets from the Marshall Chess Club in New York City and personally delivered them to the children. The children were very happy when Beatriz read the letter the club sent them. Thank you Marshall Chess Club!
Social Action Commission Report, Abu Dhabi, UAE