“First word is smile, second is love.” Morgan Durham

When I try to describe our trip to Colonel Bogado, there are two words I repeat over and over. First word is smile. You don’t have to speak the same language or come from the same country or be rich to feel the warmth of a smile. Watching the children smile and laugh while playing futbal; the excitement when we gave them backpacks will always fill my heart with happiness. Even the smallest gestures were returned with huge smile. Just thinking about all those smiles makes me smile as I write this.

Morgan with our Girls Soccer Worldwide team and students from our partnered school in Antequera, Paraguay

Second word is love. Of course starting with the love of futbal. The kids would play anywhere, the school yard, a dirt road and even in the rain and mud, and with any type of ball, flat or the seams splitting. All they wanted to do was play the game they love and not worry about having the latest cleats or the field being perfect. Also, the love everyone had for Colonel Bogado itself was felt everywhere we went.

As we would walk down the street the neighbors would wave and smile to us. The children were so excited to show us their school and preform a traditional dance. We met many locals who are so proud of where their homeland. There are many we talked to who are using their education and abilities to give back to their home town. From the mother’s supporting their daughters playing futbal and making sure they follow their dreams, to the doctor fighting for the latest medical supplies.

Morgan being embraced by a young girl after visiting a school in a small rural town in Paraguay.

Since my Spanish only goes as far as counting to ten and el bano, I could not communicate with the children and relied a lot on others to translate. At first, not speaking fluent Spanish discouraged me to see other girls having conversation.  I soon realized there were ways around it. They are all kids looking for something fun to do and a smile goes along way. (click for quick clip)

Morgan taking a photo with the students at a small rural school in Paraguay. She was able to gift a back pack to each one setting them up for success in their upcoming school year.

My favorite moment was at one of the fields. Luckily for me, one of the local girls had a cell phone and she pulled up Google Translate and a notepad to write what she wanted to say in English. Her name is Azurine which means light blue, thank you Google.  Our love of futbal connected us from the start.

Unfortunately she was recently injured and couldn’t play. So I told her she is still a strong and smart girl who should always dream big and follow her dreams. She finished with saying “never forget me and I love you”. I will never forget her! Not only because she was using Google to help us communicate, but because every time she read what I said her face would light up with joy. When I left she gave me the tightest hug with the largest smile, my heart was over flowing with love.

Morgan with soccer players from the San Jose Secondary school in Coronel Bogado, Paraguay. San Jose is a GSW partnered school.

This trip has filled my heart with love and joy. Now that I am back home, my goals are to continue spreading this love and joy and to not take my life for granted. Most simply by smiling and being kind. But also, relaying the importance of encouraging younger generations to dream big and be proud of everything they accomplish.

Thank you Morgan for sharing your heart with us and our girls in Paraguay. You are an absolute joy to be around and your smile and light is contagious!

 

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