Dave founded Teams4U in 2006 after experiencing the atrocities of the Beslan crisis in 2004 when over 300 people were killed in a school attack in Russia. From his experience working as an International Projects Manager for Samaritan‚Äôs Purse, he was invited to take a team of volunteers into Beslan to be part of the rehabilitation process there. Out of that harrowing situation, Dave realised the difference short-term teams can make and wanted to set up an organisation that could give anyone the opportunity of travelling abroad to assist children in crisis.
‚ÄúI want to give people who aren‚Äôt able to give up their day-to-day lives the opportunity to go overseas and make a difference.
Most of us have jobs, families, mortgages and bills to pay. We can‚Äôt all spend months or years abroad. But I don‚Äôt want that to stop people from travelling to the third world, getting off the tourist route, and meeting the needs of the children there. From whatever walk or stage of life you‚Äôre in, I want to give you the opportunity to travel with Teams4U.‚Äù
– Dave Cooke
Dave has never been a stranger to risks or the dedication it takes to start up a charity! In 1990, after seeing the images break of the orphans from Ceausescu‚Äôs regime in Romania, he decided, with the help of some friends, to get an aid wagon together and drive it across, hoping the medical supplies, beds, blankets and clothes would radically change the horrific conditions in which these children were living. What he didn‚Äôt know (and no-one knew) was that the few thousand shoebox gifts that went across with the convoy from Wrexham would grow into the biggest shoebox programme in the world!
In 1994 Operation Christmas Child was amalgamated with the American led International Charity Samaritan‚Äôs Purse. Dave resigned from his job as Contracts Manager for a Window Installation company and became SP‚Äôs Overseas Projects Manager, delivering shoeboxes all across the world whilst developing¬†their soccer programme & Second Chance programme; taking sports and games to street-children and juvenile convicts.
From those years pioneering new programmes and visiting new countries grew the seeds for Teams4U. Seeing children without family or community, traumatised through abuse, war and poverty, laugh and play again through the sports programmes empowered Dave to make that the focus of T4U.
‚ÄúTeams4U is all about drawing alongside children, showing them someone cares about them and believes in them. We want to be dream-makers, the kind of people that challenge these often forgotten-about kids and ask them what they want to be, what do they want to do? We are about helping remove the obstacles that can prevent these kids from achieving their hopes and plans (such as our education programmes in Romania and Develop with Dignity programme in Uganda) but we want to go deeper than that. We want to help these kids believe in themselves; sow that one seed that says they can achieve what they want to achieve.‚Äù
Currently Dave is our project leader for Uganda. He runs our Child Sponsorship programme in Nangunga, the regional HIV/AIDS and Cervical Cancer testing we do (in collaboration with Ugandan NGO AIC) plus heading our Develop with Dignity Programme in the District of Kumi. Dave still leads volunteer teams all over the world, particularly into Eastern Europe and Africa.