When Matthieu, a 14-year old student at St. John’s International School heard about the efforts of his soccer coach to bring soccer clothes and shoes to an orphanage in his native Lubumbashi Katanga (Congo), he wanted to help. Without informing his coach, he started collecting soccer shoes and jerseys, first from his teammates and then from all St. John’s students. He cast the net wider by contacting local soccer clubs and collected boxes full of items to donate.
When coach Sebastien found out, he was touched by his player’s efforts. “You have no idea what this means to the people in my hometown,” explains coach Sebastien. “I could not have imagined that anyone would do something so generous for me, let alone one of the youngest players on my team! I thank everyone who made this possible and cannot wait to see the smiles on the children’s faces when they see what we bring to them.”
Coach Sebastien invited the African players he works with at Anderlecht to come to the school and show their appreciation for the generous efforts of Matthieu and the other students. Anderlecht central defender Chancel Mbemba, from the same hometown as coach Sebastien, visited St. John’s to personally thank Matthieu.
The story does not end there. Mobile telecommunications company Proximus heard about the project and offered to donate many more items. Thanks to the generosity of logistics company DHL, which offered to send all the donated clothes to Congo for free, this story has a great ending. A project that started small with great intentions snowballed into a very large collection that fills an entire cargo airplane.
“Coach Sebastien has been such an inspiration to me, he has helped me improve my game so much and I wanted to do something for him”, says Matthieu, who is U.S. born, but also holding joint Canadian and Dutch nationality. “When he told us about the orphanage in his hometown in Congo, I just thought of all the people who would want to support such a project and how great it would be to bring joy to the orphans. The result is beyond anything I could have dreamed of!”
As Raymond Holliday-Bersegeay, Head of School at St. John’s, says proudly: “This is another example of a St. John’s student initiating a wonderful project for such a worthy cause. Our students are taught and expected to be of service to others and this is another superb example of a St. John’s student positively influencing the world through an action of companionship, both for his soccer coach and the orphans in Congo.”
“As an international logistics company we deliver for customers worldwide. We are delighted to help bring this initiative to a successful ending,” adds Danny Van Himste, Managing Director DHL Express Belgium. “We encourage entrepreneurship and what Matthieu has achieved is a great example of how one person can make a difference.”