According to a report presented at the UN Security Council, the radical Islamic Jihad has killed more than 3,900 children over the last four years, wounded more than 7,300 and kidnapped more than 4,000 children in northeastern Nigeria.
Feldman, Israel's new ambassador to Nigeria decided to cancel the reception on Independence Day and do something more useful with the money. He created a soccer league for Nigerian children aged 8 to 12 who are in refugee camps in the state of Adamawa, Nigeria, on the border of Cameroon. There are some 770,000 children displaced in these camps because of Boko Haram.
225 children from three refugee camps were divided into 10 groups and played against each other for a week. The embassy took care of everything: uniforms, balls, coaches, judges. "Our intention was to bring a message of hope to the children, which is also the Zionist message," explained Feldman, who also gave the league a name: "Israel cares—Kids' Football League."
The embassy also coached Nigeria's former national football team captain, Nwankwo Kanu, and two other local film stars, Desmond Elliot and Funke Akindele (Jennifer) who perform in Nollywood, which is the Nigerian equivalent of Bollywood and produces even more films than her Indian sister.
The two film actors, together with local university officials, were in charge of a video production competition designed to make the league viral, and through it to tell people about the Israeli humanitarian project.
What somewhat clouded the tournament was the fact that, due to warnings from the embassy's security officer, the ambassador was not allowed to reach the area and he had to send his local bureau chief in his place. "Even though I couldn't make it, I preferred the event take place. It is more important to pass the message than have the ambassador participate," said Feldman. "The children were happy and thousands of people in the refugee camps cheered them on until the final game." The game took place just before Boko Haram released the 82 girls who were kidnapped in 2014.
In addition to the soccer league in which they participated, the children won something just as important. The money saved from canceling the reception at the Israeli Embassy will pay their tuition in the camps for an entire year.
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)