Although high school students Wang Luojun and Luo Yiting, both 16, were not on a football field that evening, judging by the amount of praise and applause they received, it was as if they had just scored a winning goal.
Wang and Luo, both students from the Affiliated High School of Peking University, were crowned the winners of the 2017 Public Benefit International Challenge for Youth (PBIC) on August 7, in Beijing. Their project, entitled A Football Team, is aimed at helping more Africans share the joy of football fever, by building football fields financed through charity competitions and donations. Having lived in Uganda for three years, Wang said that the project was inspired by her childhood experience. When she was in Uganda at the age of three to six, she often saw kids of her age playing football with a ball made of palm leaves and using plastic bags in place of shoes.
"There is a large number of football fans in Africa. We hope we can bring professional venues and equipment to African football lovers through our fundraising," Wang told ChinAfrica. The team has already raised $1,800 through public lectures and charity performance.
Wang and Luo were among the 207 Chinese students for whom this summer was both memorable and meaningful. Though coming from different middle schools, they came together around a common goal: trying to find innovative ways to help Africa get rid of poverty, hunger and AIDS. Sponsored by China-Africa Business Council and China Social Assistance Foundation, the 2017 PBIC is in line with the four dimensions of UN Sustainable Development Goals - no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, and quality education.
"The aim of the competition is to encourage young people to develop creative ideas, propose realistic solutions through innovative thinking, and design public benefit programs to contribute to the improvement of the health, nutrition and educational conditions of Africans," said Feng Qiang, Director of Social Benefit Department at China-Africa Business Council.
Zhou Yahan, a 14-year-old high school freshman from Beijing No.8 High School, is a member of Suez Canal Team, one of the 46 participating teams of 2017 PBIC. He and his four classmates have proposed to produce easily-made water purifiers to help people gain access to clean water and combat waterborne diseases.
"The idea came up when we were talking with African students studying in China. They told us that many places in Africa do not have access to clean water. And a lot of children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation," Zhou told ChinAfrica. "Our water purifiers may be of help."
Each project was evaluated on three criteria, namely project planning, promotion and fundraising. Other proposals included creating an online curriculum custom-made for African students; providing African people with suitable vegetable seeds and planting instruction; raising Africans' awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention through lectures and videos, etc.
"This project is an opportunity for Chinese youth to think about people, to think about China-Africa relations and think about how to create a better life for people worldwide," said Catherine Sozi, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa.
China-Africa Business Council and China Social Assistance Foundation will assist the teenagers in carrying out their projects, such as by putting them in contact with sponsors and partners, and providing transportation and technical support. With the backing of such strong teammates, one can bet it's not the last time that Wang and Luo shoot and score.
Scan the QR code to watch the competition