Kenyan Refugee Mary Maker moved FC Barcelona bosses and other global leaders with an emotional speech, compelling them to commit Ksh48 million to help affected countries.
The activist narrated how she struggled while growing up at Kenya's Kakuma Refugee Camp at the event attended by FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, and the Mayor of New York City Hall, Eric Adamas.
In attendance too were Barcelona Coach Xavi Hernández, first team players, Jordi Alba, Marc André Stegen, Sergi Roberto and Franck Kessie and football veterans Thierry Henry and Juliano Belletti.
Maker shared her story revealing that she fled South Sudan at the age of four and could not comprehend what was going on around her.
Seeing kids her own age in the classroom rejuvenated her and gave her hope when she attended school for the first time.
"I knew education was the remedy to my shattered life. I was so proud of myself when I was able to speak Swahili and English, which are the main languages in Kenya, and when I learned how to write my name on paper for the very first time," Mayer recalled.
She detailed that when she was seven years old, her father took her out of Kakuma camp and enrolled her in a boarding school. As an international student, Maker faced many challenges but never stopped trying.
However, her father passed on, forcing her to return to the refugee camp. That, however, did not derail her passion for education which forced her to start empowering other refugees.
Following her emotional speech, the Barcelona foundation announced a partnership with UNHCR through which the Spanish La Liga giants will contribute Ksh48 million (400,000 euros) per season to assist different nations.
The countries listed include Uganda, Colombia, Malaysia and Turkey.
In Uganda, the focus is on health, sports and environmental protection project for young people who have fled South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"The agreement with UNHCR is part of the priorities that FC Barcelona and its Foundation defined for this new stage of the Club, that I have the honour to preside: to focus on the fact that refugees and displaced people are people like us who have been forced to leave their homes and must be protected, especially children and young people in various countries around the world," Barcelona President stated.
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