It’s always great to meet other organisations in the Sport for Development sector, and to identify opportunities for collaboration and learning. In this article, we’re looking at the award-winning HODI – the Horn of Africa Development Initiative, an organisation working in Northern Kenya using football for social good. Since 2007, HODI has grown to be the voice championing peace and development in Marsabit and Moyale, using football for advocacy, education, community cohesion and livelihood support programs. Today, HODI has grown to over twenty five members of staff, serves close to seven thousand people and won the prestigious Beyond Sport award in 2015.
Last week we travelled to Marsabit to meet Programme Coordinator Noor Abdulqadir and his team, and saw first hand the fantastic work being done by HODI there. Marsabit is a small but vibrant town that has been dogged over the years by labels of “dangerous” and “hostile” due to some tribal conflicts. This means visitors rarely make the journey, but that is a shame, since the region is largely peaceful, the scenery stunning and the people incredibly welcoming. The new Tarmac road that goes to the Ethiopian border has brought more security and opportunity, but also an increasing risk of HIV and sexual health issues that comes with the movement of people. It is in this area that HODI and TackleAfrica hope to work together.
This week we also met with Fatuma Adan, the Executive Director and founder of HODI now based in Nairobi, and heard how she and her team have been working tirelessly to promote peace in the region and change the often negative image of northern Kenya. Fatuma’s story is inspiring, a law graduate who gave up a potentially lucrative career at the Judiciary, she instead went home to Marsabit and started to provide a small legal aid desk with six volunteers for people who needed, but could not afford, legal representation in court cases. HODI was born and has since grown to provide support to Marsabit and Moyale communities that you see today. Fatuma speaks passionately about wanting to change how people perceive the north and the northern people, in particular disliking how much is written negatively about Marsabit by people who have never set foot in the region.
HODI has been a pioneer in breaking taboos in Marsabit, notably with a programme called Breaking The Silence which created safe spaces for girls and young women to speak out on issues that affected them, as well as Shoot To Score Not To Kill, which promoted community cohesion and reinforced messages of peace and unity in a sometimes conflicted region.
There is much common ground between HODI and TackleAfrica, and we hope to be able to run a programme together soon, bringing HIV and sexual health education to the young people HODI serves. Thanks to all at HODI for welcoming us, both in Marsabit and Nairobi!