While earning an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University, Stephen Reynard ’10M co-founded Sports4HOPE, a non-profit organization that serves citizens of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As the organization approaches its first milestone, Reynard is seeing his vision become a reality.
No stranger to the global perspective, Reynard was born in Germany and has lived in six different countries. After earning a B.A. in History at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn., and briefly serving as an eighth-grade U.S. History teacher in Nashville, he enrolled in Arcadia’s IPCR program in 2008.
“When I was looking for graduate programs in the field of conflict resolution, Arcadia’s offered something that other programs did not, namely, an international peace component,” says Reynard. “Over the course of my two years in the IPCR program, the idea of international peace was analyzed, deconstructed, and reinvented into a rich and fascinating framework of thinking worth applying and sharing.”
In 2009, Reynard used this fertile environment as a springboard, co-founding Sports4HOPE, an organization that seeks to prevent and reconcile conflicts by inspiring hope, improving the quality of life, and empowering youth in conflict-affected areas through sport and peace education.
The inspiration to start Sports4HOPE mainly came from Reynard’s experiences traveling throughout the Congo in the summer of 2008 with Christian Blind Mission Ireland (CBM), an international Christian development organization, committed to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest countries of the world. He visited some of the different project sites, traveling with his uncle, David McAllister, who serves as the Director of CBM Ireland.
“While in DRC, I met a man named Kalongo Rwabikanga and it was through my conversations with him and my uncle that the idea to set up a sport and peace education program in the Bunia area was first developed,” he says. “With this general idea and a passion to mobilize support, I began working on a project proposal with fellow classmates Rachel Brophy, Shoko Nakatomi, and Chris Manning from the IPCR program to submit as a requirement for Instructor of Sociology and International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Alex Otieno's Post-Conflict Development course. After completing the project proposal for class credit, a group of my friends and family members decided that the best way for us to continue our work while not yet in the Eastern region of Congo was to found a non-profit organization in the U.S. to support our vision.”
Sports4HOPE has come a long way since 2009 due to the support of several key individuals, including fellow Arcadia alum Brophy and Reynard’s brother, Paul. In September 2011, the organization will start its first project in the Eastern region of Congo with three communities involved in an inter-tribal massacre that tragically resulted in 300 deaths.
For now, Reynard is serving a different population, working for L’Arche Paris, part of an international network of faith-based communities centered on people who have developmental disabilities. In the future, Reynard hopes to lead Sports4HOPE and eventually lecture on reconciliation and development issues.