Ben Nteza Ssenoga is a 13-year-old Ugandan school boy and of one of the many people who have gotten in touch with us over the last couple of years to ask for our help. Ben asked if we might be able to share some of our shoes and sports equipment to a programme he set up during Covid called ‘Kids closer to sport Uganda’. Ben’s inspirational story and what he has achieved we believe is worth sharing, as Ben exemplifies ShoesToShare’s own ethos for helping others first. Ben saw the need for children of all ages to be able to participate and enjoy sports in some way, which is why we felt compelled to help.
Ben has introduced tennis in an area of Uganda where children had never been given the chance to experience the sport before. Kyegegwa District is in a remote rural part of western Uganda. A mixture of agricultural farming villages and refugee camps. Ben saw tennis being played on the TV whilst in his local store and instantly decided he wanted to learn to play. He bought an old racquet and a couple of balls and played against a wall to hone his skills. From there other local children got interested and Ben began helping them play.
Word and interest spread, and Ben initially strung up a makeshift court on borrowed local land and formed his own tennis/sports programme, naming it ‘Kids Closer To Sport Uganda’. He has subsequently become a role model to his local community, and spurred on by our equipment donations, he decided to help introduce tennis to a wider group of local children within the refugee camps and villages in his region. To enable this he decided that he would need to build his own tennis court to make playing more accessible. He proceeded to first locate and negotiate with a local farmer to buy some land and raised the money to purchase the small plot. Bringing together some friends, he began the long process of carving out the court from the hillside, hand digging and levelling the court using picks shovels and wheelbarrows.
What started out as a vision and a dream has now turned out to be a masterpiece example of hard work, commitment and a very healthy dose of community spirit.
Please take a look at the images of his journey below that Ben has kindly shared with us. If you are inspired by Ben’s story and would like to help support projects like his around the world. Please kindly donate through our website and check out our Instagram: @shoestoshare_ and please like, share and follow our page to keep in touch for more updates.
How it all began:
The tools involved:
The end result:
Why it was all worth it:
Our wonderful donations finding their new homes: