Our newest impact partner SHANITA recently ran a school holiday program for local kids in Karamoja, Uganda. We sat down with founder and photographer, Lior Sperandeo, about their work and why he believes football can change the world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and SHANITA.
My name is Lior Sperandeo; I'm an Israeli photographer & storyteller based in Karamoja, Uganda. Through my work, I build awareness about issues affecting underprivileged communities worldwide and try to be a visual advocate for those that are unspoken for.
However, the biggest challenge to my work is moving between two different worlds.
One day I’m sitting in a dusty, remote part of the globe hearing a heartbreaking testimony from a mother who is trying to feed her hungry children. The next day, I find myself in a restaurant hearing complaints about the food on an extravagant menu.
In those moments, it is impossible to forget the faces, the names, and the stories I have documented. They are forever etched on my soul.
So after years with a camera on my shoulder, I decided to turn my advocacy into action. That’s why I founded SHANITA to support children in Uganda who miss out on an education due to poverty, gender and conflict.
Why Uganda and the community of Karamoja?
I first started working in Uganda five years ago, when I came to document the impact of the ongoing drought in Karamoja, a remote region in the country’s northeast. I saw hunger, poverty and despair - with many of the victims being women and children.
One day I returned to the village where I had previously photographed and was excited to share their photographs with them. They laughed and enjoyed themselves until the photos showed people who did not survive the year; one girl in particular named Blessing, who was only three years old when I met her.
At that point, the harsh reality of their lives hit me. I realized that the organization I was setting up was not an educational organization but a humanitarian organization that put young lives first.
What made PARK the partner of choice to supply footballs for your recent camp?
We were excited to have PARK as an impact partner at the last camp we held in Karamoja for children who did not have a home to return to during the school holidays. SHANITA built a three-week base for the kids to remain safe and protected.
The PARK footballs became a huge hit at the camp. Everyday, the kids were excitedly waiting for playtime. Some of them had never held a ball before!
What does the power of play do for these kids?
Most of SHANITA's children come from rural backgrounds. They are kept busy from a young age with many household chores like pumping water and hauling firewood, leaving them no time to be children.
When they get to the program, we give them the opportunity to play because it is a powerful medium to growth and development.
Do you believe football can change the world?
I am a big believer in change. I think that each of us has the power to change our surroundings with the tools, talent, or knowledge we have acquired. In the end, It is people who create change. My tool was a camera, and someone else's tool might be music or cooking.
So why not football?
Learn more about SHANITA.
Check out more of Lior's work.