Soccer success for Colombian street kids thanks to volunteers: Interview with Ed Veldhuisen
A fantastic project in the second largest city in Colombia, this venture was founded to provide children affected by poverty, addiction and violence the opportunity to participate in sports, recreational and cultural activities with an aim to guide the process of social integration.
We spoke with Dutch coordinator Ed Veldhuisen about the inspiration behind this project, the challenges that it has faced and the impact that it has had on the lives of so many of the young people in this city.
What was the inspiration behind this project?
I came to Medellin to volunteer with children on the street and instantly realized the difference you can make to their lives.
The activities I organized quickly became very popular with the kids and I did not want to just abandon what was proving to be such a success!
How is the project run at present?
We are working with children from several institutes who participate voluntarily in the activities we organize.
We run an array of activities including regular football matches, ´Cooperation & Communication´ workshops, music lessons, performances and recordings, and even produce a regular newspaper written for and by the children of the shelters.
Which activities are most popular with the kids?
Our soccer practices have been a great triumph. We have two teams with an official league, which has given the kids a lot of focus. They work so hard for the Saturday games!
We also have an annual outing for all the children and volunteers. It is a tradition of the project that really establishes the sense of us all as one big family.
Why do you need volunteers?
All our activities are becoming increasingly popular with the children and this is great – our main aim is to encourage children living on the streets to participate in activities that will eventually inspire them to leave the street behind.
However with the increasing interest comes increasing responsibility! We need all the help that we can get in implementing the all the activities that the children need and deserve.
For example, we are hoping to start our own football competition, within which many of our boys will take leading roles as coordinators and referees. They will receive some money to thank them for their efforts which will be invested in their future studies. However this will not be possible without the valuable work of volunteers.
The kids also develop great bonds with the volunteers which is great for improving their social and interpersonal skills.
What are the key challenges facing the project?
The main aim of the project is to encourage children living on the streets to participate in activities that will eventually inspire them to leave the street behind. However this is not always an easy task. It takes a lot of regular encouragement and positive reinforcement to keep them on track. This is where volunteers come in. They really play a key role in inspiring these children to believe in working for a better future.
Where do you see the project going in the future? Is there an ultimate aim?
We have a lot of dreams to help better our children. We know that they have the potential to go far. We are working on improving the content and range of activities so as to get more children involved. What more could you wish than to give children from the streets the life that they deserve? And thanks to the work of our wonderful volunteers this dream is becoming a reality.
If you would like to become part of this fantastic project visit here