Darijo Srna, captain and midfielder for the Ukrainian Football club Shakhtar Donetsk FC, has recently made headlines by donating 100 laptops to the children of boarding schools in Donetsk, Ukraine. Donetsk is an industrial city in Eastern Ukraine that has been going through extreme conflict due to the war between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists. Many people had to leave the city for a period of time, but have recently started to make their way back to their abandoned homes, with fighting halted but fear of the unknown weighing down on the citizens. Heating and hot water systems are often not in operation, and people do not go out into the streets.
Darijo however, has been able to become a beacon of good fortune in an otherwise difficult time for the children of Donetsk. His donation of laptops is not the only help he has given to the youth of this conflicted area. He has also given 20,000 tons of tangerines to children in schools across the city, as well as stationary and sports equipment. His generosity comes from his belief that children are the future, and should have the opportunity to grow and develop, even during difficult times. While growing up in Croatia, he was from a region that was famous for their tangerines, but he also saw the tragedies that can result from living in a region that is in conflict, and wants to give back to the city that has given him the opportunity to play the sport that he loves.
This is just one example of the power that sports and athletes can have on helping children affected by areas of conflict. PeacePlayers International works every day to unite, educate, and inspire children in divided communities through the power of sport, and the work of athletes such as Darijo Srna is an inspiration to all.