To minister in the slums north of Tegucigalpa is a dangerous calling. Warring gangs battle over streets, leaving innocent people caught in the crossfire.
The most innocent of those are the children.
“We faced hard times in our neighborhood a few years ago, as gang members were on a mission to recruit children and use them as informants when the police did raids,” says Noemi, who works as the project director at Los Valientes del Senor Child Development Center. “As a church, we identified the need of keeping our children out of the gangs’ radar.”
Noemi knew if there was one way to get the children, especially the boys, to the center, it was soccer.
“In light of that situation we decided to start soccer tournaments,” says Noemi, “which to our surprise have surpassed our expectations. Not only have the children’s parents shown a tremendous commitment during every soccer match by cheering for their children, but our beneficiaries are playing soccer with relentless passion.”
One of those parents was Vanessa, whose sons Adonay, 9, and Angel, 7, signed up for the tournaments. “I watched my [sons], playing on a real soccer team for the first time during one of the project’s soccer tournaments. I didn’t know how talented they were until that day,” says Vanessa.