Columbus Crew SC striker Kei Kamara and Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Lahoud picked up a well-deserved honor on Monday, when they were named recipients of the 2015 FIFPro Merit Award.
FIFPro, the worldwide representative organization for all professional soccer players, recognized Kamara and Lahoud with the honor and a $25,000 check for their work with Schools for Salone, an organization that builds schools in their native Sierra Leone.
Kamara and Lahoud opened their own school – the Kei Kamara/Mike Lahoud Education for All Primary School – near Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, in September. The school serves over 50 students in an area with minimal urban planning that was settled by people fleeing Sierra Leone’s long civil war.
Sierra Leone was plagued by civil war from 1991-2002 and recently was hit hard by the Ebola crisis. Kamara and Lahoud both fled the country as children, with Lahoud traveling alone to the US as a six-year-old and Kamara leaving with his family at age 16.
“On behalf of Michael and I, we want to thank FIFPro for this wonderful award,” Kamara said in a video released by FIFPro. “Me and Michael got involved with Schools for Salone years back when the founder Cindy Nofziger approached us and asked us [if] we would like to make a change back in Sierra Leone, where we were born. It wasn’t a tough question, we definitely wanted to be part of the project. She explained to us what we were going to be doing was building schools in Sierra Leone and giving kids a better chance at education. We want to think you guys again for all the support, we want to thank you guys for the award and we’re definitely not going to stop there. We’re going to keep working with Schools for Salone and we’re going to keep improving education in Sierra Leone.”
Kamara was named the 2015 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year for his work with Schools for Salone. More information on the organization can be found at their website, SchoolsForSalone.org.