By Christina Lorella and Aspasea McKenna
On July 20, 2012, Aspasea McKenna, 20, will help lead a new non-profit initiative, “Inspire a Child” to build the first environmentally sustainable soccer field in a remote village in Nepal.
Serving over 217 children in a region devastated by the 1996-2006 Nepali Civil War, McKenna is the only Washington resident out of the program’s eleven volunteers who will travel to the village and implement a public service project for four weeks. In addition, McKenna will lead a psychotherapeutic art workshop for children who have been psychologically and physically affected by the war.
“I have been doing a lot of travelling throughout South East Asia and it has truly been a life-changing experience that I would not change for the world. The people that I have met, the relationships I have forged, the conditions that I saw in these developing regions of the world had such an impact on me that it has caused me to re-evaluate what I want out of life and what path I should take in getting there,” McKenna, an International Business student said.
“I’m so fortunate to have been raised in a privileged world. With that said, I feel that it is my duty to help those that were not born in such advantageous circumstances.”
Inspire a Child was designed by University of California Santa Barbara student Olivia Wong and was awarded The Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation of $10,000 in May of 2012. This initiative aims to use soccer to increase universal primary education in post-conflict and developing regions of the world.
Currently in her junior year, McKenna is on a year-long direct exchange program at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan where she met colleague Olivia Wong.
“She told me what the organization aimed to do and asked if I would like to help in launching the first implementation of the project. Since then we have eagerly been working away in our living room, sending out emails for funding and sponsorship,” McKenna said.
Together, the two will bring energy-generating soccer balls, solar panels, and grids, which will provide power to the village, as it currently has no source of electricity and just recently got running water.
The project will take place at the Sarswati Peace School in Arupokhari-1, Gorkha, Nepal, which was established in 2009. The village is located 280 km outside of the capital city of Kathmandu.
“I am confident in the success and sustainability of this initiative and hope that one day through soccer, we will have reached out to schools and children all over the world,” McKenna said.