Written by Walter Pratte/Co Founder and International Director
Traveling to Paraguay is always a very special trip for me. I have the opportunity to meet and continue to see the kids we are helping through our program and 2019 was no exception. This is when I met Magali…a 14 year old girl who is full of life, always smiling, and who wants to be like so many other girls. She wants go to school, play soccer with her friends, attend school, and dream of being a doctor or a teacher.
As I learned more about Magali, I began to realize this was not her reality.
At times, she needs to stay home from school because she needs to take care of her younger sisters. (Because of her caring nature this is not a burden for her.) One of her responsibilities is cooking for them and what sits on her mind often…I hope we can eat tomorrow.
When families are faced with the challenges of poverty the essentials most have access to everyday become a luxury. On ongoing worry pursues.
If you know her, you will know she is passionate about playing soccer. She dreams of playing professionally one day, as she shares in this video. She attended a soccer practice I was holding for our Las Pioneras team for the first time.
When I introduced myself and asked why she doesn’t play soccer with the girls, she said, “I love to play but I don’t have cleats or all the stuff to play. It is also hard for me to come to practice and games because I need to take care of my sisters and do stuff in the house.”
Being a part of an experience like this is a challenge for many girls who carry the added responsibilities that poverty brings.
After our practice, our team and I was able to visit her home and meet her mom. At that moment, I realized the daily challenges her family was faced with and understood her situation much more.
We were also able to meet her sisters. The youngest was 2 years old, another was 6, and her oldest sister was 12 years old. We talked for about 20 minutes and during this time I had very few words.
The world around me stood still.
When I ask if she ate lunch, her reply was yes, but I had my doubts. I continued to ask if she was going to eat dinner. Her reply this time was no which meant her younger sisters would not be eating that night, as well. We knew that needed to change.
We made a trip to the small grocery store at the corner of the street to ensure she didn’t need to carry that worry for the next few days. Magali, being the humble girl she is, only asked for enough items to feed her sisters. She didn’t ask for anything extra focusing on what was needed, not what she wanted.
I suggested something special for her, “maybe a fun treat for yourself?” She looked and looked and finally asked for a bag of cookies. These cookies weren’t the most popular, the ones most of us would want if we had the chance. This bag had the most cookies in it. She knew this choice would provide her an extended amount of time to enjoy them.
When I see Magali, I see so many other girls I coach every day in California. The difference is, Magali was born into poverty. Magali wants to go to college and study. She wants to change her family history by getting an education and have a job.
She doesn’t want to become a teen mom, at the age 14 or 15, like so many other girls she knows. This also includes her mom who had twins at the age of 15.
This means they have been able to stay in school. They have had access to everything they’ve needed to pass their classes and move on to the next grade. This includes the internet, school tuition, school supplies, and tutoring classes in subjects that are more challenging. Even though it has not been easy, they have been successful! They are both doing the work and finding a way.
Magali and her sister also play on our Las Pioneras team, first ever all recreational girls soccer team in this small rural town. We are looking forward to them being back on the field with all the essentials they need to play. This includes cleats, uniforms, and a bike to get back and forth on their two mile dirt road journey to the soccer field. (all thanks to a generous gift from a donor!)
Magali and her sister are also giving back to their own communities through Girls Soccer Worldwide™ led service projects. Helping others is one of the essential components in our Ambassador program, cultivating character on AND off the field.
We believe every girl deserves to have access to the same opportunities, regardless of where she was born or the socio economic status she was born into.
Why? When you empower a young girl to become a leader and provide her with the tools to rise up and make a difference, she becomes an agent of change within her own community. She grows up to become a woman who brings an entire community with her. This is where the magic happens.
We are always looking ahead at the possibilities. We believe when opportunities are created for equality on AND off the field, the concept of a glass ceiling with limited dreams can be replaced with unlimited possibilities. This is when the cycle of poverty CAN be broken.
YOU can help young girls like Magali become leaders and create change within her own community. She is one of many who are held under a glass ceiling. Dreaming only of what they believe don’t belong to them.
When you partnership with Girls Soccer Worldwide you not only Change One. You can Change Thousands. Every girl has a voice that can change the world, starting with her own.