Supporting and celebrating refugee youth on Giving Tuesday by One World Play Project

According to the UNHCR, there are more than 21.3 million refugees worldwide living in exile. More than half are children under the age of 18. There’s no denying the need for medical aid, food and shelter for these refugees. These are all critical components in helping refugees resettle and move forward with their lives. At the same time, One World Play Project and our partners recognize that play has an important role in the process of finding and building home in a new place.

Tony Sanneh, CEO of our partner The Sanneh Foundation, says, “We often think about the basic needs—and everyone’s worried about food, housing, medical—and they forget about the kids. And a child isn’t a child if he can’t play. One of the most comforting things we can do for every refugee family is provide them with a soccer ball, so their kid knows something that is familiar to them.”

For refugee youth and adults living in exile, play builds community; empowers individuals; creates joy; and helps keep optimism alive. Play helps us recover from trauma; cope with challenging situations; and gives us hope for a better tomorrow. 18-year-old Ayan, a refugee from Ethiopia, says, “I love to play because I like to show people what I have. When I score a goal, I feel like I have a power.”

Anil, a 13-year-old refugee from Nepal, says, “I like to play soccer because I have a fun time playing with my friends.”

And 16-year-old Sahra, a refugee from Kenya, says, “I love to play because I love to meet new people.”

Sadly, in many communities, play is disappearing or nonexistent. No matter who you are, where you come from or where you live, we believe everyone should have access to play.

That’s why this #GivingTuesday, One World Play Project and our partners are raising awareness and ultra-durable One World Futbols—soccer balls that never need a pump and never go flat—for organizations working with refugees, immigrants, IDPs and local youth in communities around the world.

In sharing the stories of refugee youth and our partner organizations on our campaign website, social media channels using #PlayTogether, in email newsletters and more, we want to amplify these beautiful, important refugee stories and inspire others to join our campaign by donating valuable play resources to organizations working with refugee youth.

Our partner organizations include Hermanos en el Camino in Mexico; International Sports and Music Project in Greece; Muti Onlus in Italy; Soccer In The Streets in the United States; The Sanneh Foundation in the United States; and the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative in South Sudan and Uganda.

If your #GivingTuesday plans focus on helping refugees, immigrants and IDPs, shoot us an email at We’d love to discuss how we can work together to help more people in this space.

You can learn more about our initiative and support the Play Together campaign at Through play, we can empower refugees, and all youth, to reach their full potential, become the next generation of leaders and change the world.