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Published: June 16th 2017
Chicos train on the beach
Five days a week the boys are out here training with hard physical exercises.
Geo: -1.56124, -80.8072
If you're into miracles, try the one unfolding in Puerto Lopez. In a fishing village far from the drugs and violence of the big cities, lie the drugs and violence of the small cities. Here you find the culture of 13 year old mothers and 12 year old dropouts.
And poverty. Strangling poverty.
An then comes an idea. Fredy, our teacher here at La Lengua language school, came to Puerto Lopez 10 years ago looking for a new life and instead gave life to an idea that is changing teenagers in this teeny speck of a town.
It began as he watched boys playing futbol on the beach (we call it soccer). Wow, he says, these kids are good. They're naturals!
That's it. I'll start a club to teach these 16, 17 and 18 year olds football and while I'm at it I'll teach them the values of education, discipline and respect.
Wait a minute. These boys quit school at 12 --most of them are married before they're 15 and having babies. By the time they're this age, they're hot into drugs and alcohol and totally discriminated against by the culture that made them. How can I possibly make a
But you know what? He has.
In 2002 Fredy and his wife Raquel started football training for 20 teenagers. This year they have 30 boys under 12 years old, 25 teenagers and 25 who are 18 and above. And they've included physical training, education, english and respect for one another, the environment, and for women.
Respect for women? In a area where women are treated as objects? He told us of a brother and sister attending his English classes. She was bright with perfect pronunciation and a quick understanding of the language. But she'd come one day then miss two. When she returned he asked her, why did you not come for two days? Oh, she answers, I had to help cook and clean for my mama. After a month she quit altogether--her parents insisted. She was obligated in the kitchen, not in the classroom. Her brother is still coming.
His chicos --he calls them Los Canarios because they can fly away-- they don't drink, don't do drugs and aren't having babies. They encourage each other to stay in school and train like crazy to make up for the inherent small size of their forebears.
They're champions! Fredy beams. After many
years of losses they're winning at every level.
But this costs money.
Financially, this group is struggling. Their futbol (soccer ball) costs as much as a month's wages. Then add the cost for referees at $600 a game. And travel expenses to get to them there.
And since these are poverty level families, they also have the costs of shoes, uniforms, and all the balls and equipment of daily practice.
This costs money.
Fredy is so passionate about this project he's formed a legal club with all documentation registered with the government with Raquel as president. The first woman president in the history of Ecuador--diminutive, soft spoken, adorable Raquel.
I tried for years to get this set up with myself as president and got nowhere, he says. I put Raquel as president and two days later it's done! Nothing is impossible with God, he says over and over. Nothing.
And so he keeps the faith. Help trickles in--a sponsor here, a few dollars there, a mortgage on his house and a volunteer or two keep them going.
If you, too, want to make a difference in the stifling poverty that distorts men and makes them do terrible things, send me a message. Because remember,
this costs money. We gave them a few dollars and the extra pair of shoes Bob had brought, but we're very touched by this project and we want to do more.
Besides help with funding, the club needs only two volunteers: one to teach English (there's one here now from Germany) and one to teach futbol (soccer). Volunteers live with Fredy and Raquel and need to know some Spanish, but hurray! Fredy's a Spanish teacher--easy to arrange classes.
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