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The girls' soccer team started in September 2004, at the initiation of the local girls who requested that the Peace Corps Volunteer coach them. Since then, three coaches have been recruited from the community and a guidance committee has been established. The girls attend practices each Saturday and Sunday, before or after their family chores. The Team has also established a garden, for which they have assumed all responsibility. In Akame families live in small one room houses with thatched roofs. The women carry their water from a nearby stream or a local pump, during the dry season. In Togo girls are less likely than boys to be able to continue school if fees are difficult for their families. Allowing the girls to play soccer empowers and strengthens their confidence. The guidance committee provides the team with life skills workshops which encourage the girls to make decisions and consider options available to them. The villagers who compose the committee routinely encourage the girls in pursuit of their goals. The garden provides them opportunity to pursue better nutrition and earn income from the sale of produce. They learn both gardening skills and basic marketing skills for selling their vegetables. The next stage of gardening will be a tree nursery which will provide them knowledge about reforestation, and the environmental impact of trees. The proposal requests funds to purchase shoes, socks, uniforms and transportation to away matches. Currently the girls are working and running barefoot. Uniforms and shoes will make it feasible for them to play other villages, seeing other parts of their region, probably for the first time, in many cases!
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