The Four Centers of Hope

The Donami Foundation and its partners are embarking upon an ambitious interdisciplinary program to help rebuild the West African country of Liberia. At this critical moment in the new century, it is now more important than ever to help countries realize the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The objective of Donami's program is to help Liberia realize several of the MDGs. Specifically, Donami's efforts focus on MDG's goals universal education, gender equity, and global partnerships. Concerning universal education, Donami, working with the Ministry of Education, will establish sports/educational academies. Regarding gender equity, Donami's sports/educational academies will make a concerted effort to provide quality educational opportunities to girls in Liberia. Finally, Donami has created an institutional partnership with a preeminent global organization: the YMCA. Fittingly, the partnership between Donami and the YMCA is centered on the core values of both organizations: empowering youth and transforming communities.

Donami Sport was founded by Doc Lawson, a Liberia native and a long-time Dallas, USA resident and past collegiate, Olympic, and professional U.S. Men's soccer player. After a chance meeting with the President of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Doc saw the opportunity to help the children of Liberia reconnect socially. Since then, he has set in motion grassroots plans for developing and implementing sports and recreation programs in his native country.

Doc Lawson conducting a skills session for his teams

Liberia, a country on the west coast of Africa and modeled after the United States of America, was devastated by 15 years of civil war. Today, over 75% of Liberia's 3.5 million people are under the age of 17. Doc knew that throughout the world, soccer is a powerful uniting force. He saw that in Liberia, it could be pivotal in the lives of the children, giving them a positive outlet for their energy, and teaching them life skills while having fun. With Doc's program, the Four Centers of Hope, consisting of a sports center, knowledge center, cultural arts center and wellness center, in conjunction with the support of the Liberian government and partnership with the YMCA of Liberia, will give children opportunities never before nor currently available.

Bill Hidell, owner/president of Hidell and Associates Architects, Inc., traveled to Liberia in December 2011 to begin a feasibility study and analysis for designing a new YMCA of Monrovia, a multisport complex for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and future multipurpose YMCA community centers. These would incorporate the Four Centers of Hope. "Providing the required infrastructure needed for the various youth programs to be successful will be a challenge, but highly rewarding," said Mr. Hidell.


The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Doc Lawson discussing his vision for the children of Liberia

When asked, "Why your efforts to support the Liberian people and the YMCA of Liberia?" Hidell stated, "When Doc first outlined his vision for expanding the role of the Liberian YMCA and designing a multi sports complex for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I felt that our firm's experience in the planning and design of libraries, educational and recreational facilities could be beneficial. Working in both the United States and overseas, we have learned that each group of people and culture have different needs, priorities and expectations, and it's our role to listen and to help organize those expectations into architecture. What makes the practice of architecture fun is the desire to make a difference. We believe that the Four Centers of Hope as outlined by Doc's program will be catalysts for community development and empowerment. Our goal is to provide a cost effective approach, utilizing local, neighboring resources and labor, with each facility being environmentally appropriate, culturally relevant and site and community specific."

Doc Lawson is mobilizing global support as he initiates his "Children first campaign" in Liberia.


We must create a social/culture paradigm shift. These concepts, facilitated within our physical structures, must integrate sports, education, wellness and culture at the core of its activities. The Four Centers of Hope concepts are designed to engage children on their turf, in the streets of Liberia, using sports as the main attraction to bring them together. The collaboration between these four concepts will play a significant role in community building, as they help to reknit the social fabric of Liberian society. As such, it will support our partnership with the government of Liberia in its reconstruction plans.

With widespread youth idleness and a social vacuum blanketing Liberia, DonamiSport is getting positioned to launch its community development initiatives. Donami, which means overwhelming constructive force, has at its core, a sustainable community-based model built on four pillars: The Four Centers of Hope. It encompasses a Sports Center, Wellness Center, Knowledge Center, and Cultural Arts Center.

Sport Center features: Recreation and competitive sports leagues for boys and girls. Sports include football (soccer), basketball, volleyball, kickball, summer sports camps, tournaments, interscholastic sports programs and a Sports Ambassador Program. Training on sports code of conduct and non-violent conflict resolution.

Wellness Center features:Fitness and nutrition education, HIV awareness, sex education, personal and social hygiene education, first aid, promotion of health education and preventive health training.

Knowledge Center features:Training in public speaking, citizenship, computers, entrepreneurship, leadership development, social ethics; innovative learning concepts, a student Athlete Academy, summer learning camps, and an inspirational library including audio and ebooks.

Cultural Arts Center features:Traditional dance, music, and art; poetry, drama, summer camps, performances, marching bands, drill teams and cheerleading.

Conceptual Presentations
Project Team Partners