Football and music keep the children away from the street
According to the UN, there are around 25 million street children in Latin America. Out of these, they predict that 7 million lives in Brazill. In many cases, it is poverty that forces the children out to the street. They usually come from broken families with drug abuse, physical abuse, and poverty. Since the foundation of BarnSamariten in 1980 has the street children been an issue dear to our hearts.
Why do children live on the streets?
Countless street children can tell stories about broken families, drug abuse, and physical abuse. This is a part of their everyday. They seek different jobs to make money to buy food and clothes. A fast way to earn money can be to sell drugs, steal, and do prostitution. Very early do the children lose contact with the school and education, which leads to a steeper uphill in life and the possibility to return to normal life is a lot harder.
BarnSamariten has since many years back a close collaboration project with a baptist church and their social outreach ABM, in the city Salvador. Salvador is Brazil’s fifth-largest city with a population of around two million people. A common longing to make a difference for the street children was bord. The question everyone was thinking about was how to reach the children living as street children and those who were in the risk zone of ending up on the street. To find a common ground to meet them at, a common interest, a point of contact. As many people know music, and football plays an important role in Brazilian people’s lives. These contact points became the foundation of our work.
In the football project, they work with developing basic football skills such as technique, shooting practice, fitness, and fair play. The children are divided into different groups. Each group plays together three times a week. Regularly they go away to different football tournaments to test their skills with other teams. This is a very appreciated part of the project. Another important activity is the regularly occurring meetings with the families and relatives. Many of the children that join the sport, and music program and are not registered which means that they do not have access to health care or to go to school. Therefore, we encourage the family to register their children so they can attend school. Sometimes our staff has to follow the parents to the registration because the parents are unsure about meeting the authorities.
They have regular meetings between the parents, children, and staff. The team has a sports coach or music teacher, a psychologist, volunteers, and other key personnel depending on the children and families’ needs and situations. The team visits the homes where the children come from to map out and see the needs, and dangers that are in the home. Often times the mothers are single and be entirely responsible for the families’ income, doing this in a slum area is straining and difficult.
The goal of this project is to create opportunities for the children to start school or to be able to continue with the school if they have dropped out. All children and youths that join the project have to attend regular school to be a part of the football school or music school. School and education will always come first. Everyone needs basic knowledge to be able to develop in a positive direction and break their social exlusion. At the center, there is the opportunity to get help with homework, practice in English, and computer knowledge, amongst other things. This is something that the children can not get in the environment that they come from, therefore, the center is important to support the children in school.
The most important goal of the project is to keep the children away from the street. Today there are around 40 boys and 40 girls in the football project, and over 250 students in the music school. The children that are a part of the project are between 6 and 15 years old. The efforts are largely preventative in the sense that the alternatives should help the children to keep away from the street, criminality, and drugs, but if the children already are a part of criminal circles, and drug abuse the efforts are aimed to treat and help the children to get away from this.
Over the years, the football and music project has been a bright spot and a safe place for many children from some of Salvador's large slum areas.