Some rocks, an arc made out of barbed wire, and some trees, among other obstacles are not enough to keep these children from following behind a partially deflated soccer ball, working hard and dreaming of being the best soccer player in the world. The children of Central Caserío School in El Quebracho in the state of Ahuachapán, El Salvador smiled and laughed as they played soccer with Alyssa Monninger from Boonsboro, Maryland, who traveled with the La MANO of HOPE team to El Salvador in September, 2014.
23 year old Alyssa, upon seeing the scene where she would before have imagined playing soccer, was unable to hold back her tears. Looking up into the sky desparately, she was not able to hide her sadness and the sense of helplessness. As she wept, she watched the children laughing as they played the sport they love most, soccer. Alyssa expressed, “this obviously has impacted me. It doesn’t look like a school and neither does it look like a field or any suitable place for children to play. It makes me very sad that as much as these kids love this sport, they don’t have even a sufficient space or safe place to play”.
23 year old Alyssa, upon seeing the scene where she would before have imagined playing soccer, was unable to hold back her tears. Looking up into the sky desparately, she was not able to hide her sadness and the sense of helplessness. As she wept, she watched the children laughing as they played the sport they love most, soccer.
Alyssa began playing soccer at the age of 5 and continued through university. All throughout she has practiced and played on fields that were spacious and safe. She knows what it’s like to have appropriate equipment, soccer balls and necessary gear to passionately play her sport; while these things are only a dream for the children in El Caserío, El Quebracho.
This is exactly why La MANO of HOPE solicited Alyssa’s help with the project. Alyssa traveled to El Salvador as a volunteer to offer her huge heart of compassion as well as her knowledge and skill in soccer to help offer classes and camps in different parts of the country during the month of September, 2014.
Each moment was impacting and life changing for Alyssa as well as for the other volunteers that were part of the outreach team. The children ages 7 to 11, that participated, were students from the school, in front of which they ran after their soccer ball yelling, “go, go….”, while the leather deflated ball bounced off of rocks. The children ran around trees, avoiding running into them, all working hard to score a goal and celebrate Messi style, one of the most well known soccer stars in the world, that some of the children had had the opportunity to see play on television. Alyssa stated, “these children have nothing…there are no opportunities for them here, and yet they are perfectly happy in their simple world”.
The school has 150 students and is referred to as a campus, painted blue and white, constructed out of bamboo, aluminum and palm leaves from the surrounding coconut trees. It’s a world that looks completely different from what the current government paints it to be.
“I love to play soccer and when I get bigger, I want to have a bakery and sell cakes,” reported 11 year old Catya Yamilet Alvarenga, as she shared her thoughts with Alyssa as they played soccer together. For many children like Catya, their future is quite uncertain and filled with very few options. Their school doesn’t have any electricity; neither will you find sufficient chalkboards or adequate teaching materials. In fact the inside of the structure looks more like a bat cave than an educational institution. For these students to have the chance to become professionals, it will happen only through miracles.
For many children like Catya, their future is quite uncertain and filled with very few options. Their school doesn’t have any electricity; neither will you find sufficient chalkboards or adequate teaching materials. In fact the inside of the structure looks more like a bat cave than an educational institution.
The school as well as the grounds where the children played soccer was at best considered, impoverished conditions. The morning class at the school is attended by 70 young people with whom Alyssa shared unforgettable moments, in spite of the circumstances of noted poverty and abandonment by the current and previous governments; it is a world all of its own.
“They have nothing. I couldn’t help but cry seeing them play in this little rocky area. It’s not a place where children in the U.S. would ever consider playing and it breaks my heart that they don’t have any help,” commented Alyssa. This young volunteer, on behalf of La MANO of HOPE, gave away shoes and soccer balls to the school in order to enable the students to continue practicing soccer and dreaming of having a better future, as they live their lives in a society and with a government that limits them to their small little forgotten corner in El Salvador.