“It takes a whole village to raise a child”is an African proverb that exists in many African languages. We at 4WU subscribe to this ancient wisdom and invite you to help refugee and immigrant children in our community. Specifically, we need you to transport talented players to practices, games, and tournaments. The families of a Northeast United soccer team are doing just that, and they are making a big difference in the life of one 4WU player. But, here’s the best part:  Every player who helps transport Mohamed (“Momo”) says he is making a big impact on their lives too.

Phoebe Trubowitz and her son, Rowan, leave their house 15 minutes earlier than usual when they’re scheduled to pick up Momo from his home in southeast Portland. In the car, the three of them joke around and talk about the upcoming game. Rowan keeps an extra pair of cleats in his bag, just in case Momo forgets his.

Momo is a Somali Bantu refugee who comes from a large family and lacks the logistical support to play soccer. The Trubowitz family, as well as the entire Northeast United U13 boys soccer team, have banded together to make sure Momo makes it to every game and practice.  More importantly, they also want him to feel like a member of the team on and off the field.  For the people who make up Momo’s “soccer family,” extra time in the car is well worth it, given Momo’s terrific impact on his team.

Phoebe Trubowitz first met Momo five years ago when he was placed on the same team as her son. She says the two boys “totally hit it off” and it became natural to give Momo rides to games and practices.  What started out as a weekly drive has developed into a close relationship between the Trubowitz family and Momo. He spends a lot of time at their house and joins them on out-of-town tournaments. “The assumption is that Momo is going to be a part of our group,” Trubowitz says. “He’s one of the boys.”

One of the best parts of their connection to Momo, says Trubowitz, is watching him grow up. “He’s really come into his own this year,”she says. “Momo has become more of a leader than he’s ever been.”  She says that it has been a great experience for her kids to learn about someone from another country and culture. “I think all the parents feel like, not only is he an incredibly adorable kid, but to some degree there’s a selfish component. He’s teaching our kids something too. I do believe that we’re all getting a lot.”

Trubowitz is not the only driver. The team has truly embraced Momo, and everyone helps out. In recent years, two families, in particular, have handled the bulk of the driving.  Cindy and Jeff Dreher live in southeast Portland near Momo. Cindy Dreher says, “We just really want to help him. He’s got a passion for soccer. He needs the help to get there.” Her husband agrees, “If he didn’t have drivers, he probably wouldn’t make it to games…if he doesn’t have a ride, let’s give him a ride.” Andy Sorenson handles the other half of the driving.  “Mo’s a big part of the team and everybody loves him.  He’s super gregarious, so it makes for a fun car ride,” he says. “We just drive him, get him to the games, and he kind of makes us laugh.”

All three families agree that driving Momo is rewarding. “I think it just adds to your experience, immensely,” says Trubowitz. “I think Mo is a really special kid, but I also think that it’s been a great experience for many other people as well.”  Cindy Dreher says, “In this group, you don’t have to say anything. Everybody will do it when they need it. I think this is a unique team in the sense that everyone just pitches in when they need to.  It’s worth it.  It’s this kid’s need,”she says. “It’s a part of being on this team…I don’t think Mo, for one minute, thinks he doesn’t belong. I think that’s because of the fact that everybody feels like family to him.”

Please consider following the lead of the parents and players at Northeast United.  If you can help drive talented soccer players to their practices and games, contact Renee Ketel at rketel@comcast.net

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