On December 29 and 30, 2019, the futsal team of young Venezuelans, housed in the Janokoida Shelter for indigenous refugees, in Pacaraima – state of Roraima, Brazil, was invited to participate in a soccer tournament, receiving a trophy for first-place.
In October 2019, a pilot project was started with children and teenagers from this shelter, and now close to 120 boys and girls, averaging between 7 and 18 years old, currently benefit from this movement, which also includs volleyball training.
With categories divided by age group, during the week, the training is held on the court next to the shelter, made available by the Brazilian Army. The young people receive sports equipment such as balls, uniforms and playing shoes, provided by the UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The tournaments are for boys and girls, but in this event, held in the City Hall court, only between 13 and 14 year old boys participated, as they were already technically more prepared.
The challenging reality that these young people have been living – outside their country of origin, removed from their culture, in addition to coming from an extreme situation of misery – often leads them astray and towards bad choices like drugs, for example.
In addition, as in the shelter, minors cannot go out alone, and it is an environment where they have many tasks, sports then emerges as an opportunity to build new habits through physical exercise, learning techniques, practicing discipline, peaceful and constructive coexistence in a group, which involves health, education and joy.
“Inner work is the essence, a seed that is planted through these practices renews values and shows a new possibility of life, by integrating and expanding mind, body and spirit through sports” – explains Nicolas, a missionary of the Fraternidade – Humanitarian Federation International, which conducts this work.
Alejandro, a missionary present at the Roraima Mission, shares his vision of the process, noting that “The most important thing is companionship, working as a team, the accountability … and all this is established in the child and youth so that, when they grow up, they become good people.”
The intention for 2020 is to expand these sports activities in the shelter, which depends on the commitment of at least four more volunteers to help conduct the work – which has been a challenge, since it already has a large number of young people, with only the missionary Nicolas in charge nowadays.
“For us, it is a very intense learning experience, where we provide virtues such as love, patience, compassion, calm and serenity, which creates trust, a very positive bond, showing that we are all the same and we are a large family,” concludes Nicolas, grateful.
More than just first place, the trophy won, symbolizes a great victory of love, proof that the seed planted is alive, and can now grow.
Do you feel the call to participate? Do you know anyone who might be interested in joining this movement?