Venezuelan nonprofit gets children off streets and on the football field

Latin America

In the midst of economic and political unrest in Venezuela, a lot of children have quit school. They’re often on the streets and unsupervised, particularly in the capital of Caracas. One organization with children at the helm wants to change that.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports how it’s helping children find meaning and joy on the football field.

“Una Camiseta Por Venezuela” is made up of a group of teenagers from 25 different schools in Caracas. Their goal is to provide t-shirts, food and sports equipment to children from poor communities in the capital. Their mission is to give kids a chance on the football field, and forget about their everyday struggles.

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“We created this organization last April in the middle of anti-government protests. Children couldn’t attend school. Most of them stayed at home doing nothing. The best way to keep them away from the streets and bad habits is through sports.”
-Luis Berlioz, Founder of Una Camiseta

Members of Una Camiseta start their sessions with a pep talk about setting life goals, and the importance of teamwork and education to make a brighter future. Some students share that before Una Camiseta, they were planning to drop out of school. Now they’re making other plans.

“This organization has rescued me and many more people, people who had bad habits. Now, instead of being in the streets, we practice football three times a week, preparing for the next match, and we also eat at the end of each practice, and that’s priceless.”
– Daniel Arismendi, Student

The non-profit depends on donations and the hard work of teenagers concerned about the effects of the social, political and economic crisis in their country. The feeling of community is important to families.

“It’s the first time in the 22 years I’ve been living here, that an organization has reached out to help us. As a mother, I am very thankful to see my children practicing sports and studying and not in the streets.”
– Marisol Villalta

Members of this organization have said the children of Venezuela are its future. They hope that one t-shirt, one football match and one positive interaction at a time will make a difference.

Una Camiseta Por Venezuela has already helped more than 1,000 children from poor communities in Caracas. The organizers plan to expand the program to reach more children in 2018.