Building a Foundation for Change
Written by Brianna Canty
Over the past six months, we’ve been talking a lot about growth, reconnection, and change. In blogs and newsletters, on our Instagram feed and in-person meetings, we’ve brought up, time and time again, the idea of doing more.
In March, we published a blog with statistics on poverty, the economy, education, and healthcare in Paraguay. This was also the first time we were open about the expansion of our goals and mission. No longer were we “just about soccer.” Which, in and of itself, was never quite accurate.
While it may be in our name, soccer serves as our connector, our love language, a foot in the door. Once we have that crucial connection, we can begin to identify the needs in a community. Therein lies one of the most important tenets of our mission and delineates how we approach our role in Paraguay: “meeting the girl where she is at.”
But what does this really mean?
It’s Who We Are
Providing an equal playing field, keeping our girls in school, or offering leadership workshops can only do so much if a young girl is hungry, feels unsafe, or doesn’t have a roof over her head. Sports, education, and community-level change cannot occur if basic, human needs are left unmet.
In an Instagram Live from March, Walter and Pamela (GSWW Co-Founders) discussed this very issue. Walter said that, if GSWW can “give them privacy, give them shelter,” can give that girl a space where she “can be safe, where she can study, where she can sleep,” then we are living up to our promise. That promise is to show up in love and meet the girls, both in the Bay Area and Paraguay, where they are at. Doing more has become “the essence of who we are as an organization,” Pamela added.
It’s been our driving force since the beginning. The very first thing we did as an organization was hold a yard sale fundraiser to build Maria Lujan, our first Ambassador in Paraguay, a new bathroom in 2017. It’s always been a part of what we do; it’s always been at the core of who we are.
“We saw the immediate impact of providing privacy and shelter for this young girl. She felt seen and believed she deserved to reach for more. Today, she will become the first girl in her family to graduate high school and first person in her family to attend college.” -Pamela
A Legacy of Change
Like every community, every girl and her circumstances are unique. Meeting her where she is at looks different for the Ambassadors in the Bay Area and in Paraguay. Ultimately, the point of it all is to show up in love in the ways they need it the most. It could include building a new home or a bathroom, covering the cost of food, providing school supplies, sponsoring scholarships, or creating a safe space to engage in conversations that matter through our leadership programs.
We help provide essential needs to build stability in all areas of her life so that these girls can commit to their education, participate in sports programs, and become agents of change in their own communities through leadership programs.
We know that by creating sustainability and by meeting the girl where she is at, we can build a legacy of change.
Building a New Home
Last year, we had the opportunity to build Lujancita, GSWW Ambassador and her family, a new home.
It came about because of our Paraguay Program Manager, Maria Lujan. After soccer one night, Maria remembers walking Lujancita home. “It was very cold and it rained a lot. And when I passed the house, I saw that [her home] was broken, with holes in it, and they’d tried to cover them up with a blanket and boards.” (Translated from Spanish: “Hace mucho frio y llovía mucho. Y al pasar por allí, yo vi que su casa estaba roto, tenía todo agujero, y trataba cúbrelo con una manta o con algunas tablas.”). She subsequently called Walter to see if there was something that GSWW could do.
What ultimately pushed her to reach out for help? Maria wanted to do something for Lujancita because “it reminded me of when I also lived like that.” (Translated from Spanish: “Me hizo recordar cuando yo también vivía así.”).
Meeting this need was at the true essence of our motto: Change one, Change thousands. After GSWW built Maria a bathroom in 2017, she gained a newfound sense of security and privacy. It was a monumental shift for her. This was the same change she wanted to give to Lujancita and her family. With a combination of donations from one of our business partners, Siego Designs, and several individual donors, GSWW was able to build Lujancita a new home in March of this year. Maria was involved every step of the way, working with the contractors as the point of contact in Paraguay and even helping buy the materials.
We want every girl to know her voice matters and that she is seen and heard. This is what Girls Soccer Worldwide has always been about. Not just soccer, not just mentorship, and not just education. Our organization, at its core, leads with love, shatters poverty, and empowers girls to create change in their own communities.
We do all of this by meeting the girls where they are at.
This is us being transparent and honest about a behind-the-scenes aspect of our organization. We’ve kept it this way for a reason: meeting the girl where she is at can be an incredibly private and personal thing. That won’t change but, this is a huge part of our impact identity and we will share in the celebration with each girl. Sharing that with you—our donors, our believers, and our supporters—is us living our value of authenticity.
We do so much more than just soccer.
We are ready to do more and need to do more. A portion of the donations raised during this month’s Dollar-a-Mile Campaign will be going towards building a home for two of our Paraguay Ambassadors. We previously built them a bathroom, and we know we can do more to ensure they have proper shelter.
We are striving to make a lasting impact on the lives of these girls and we are fighting for change.
Will you join us?
Girls Soccer Worldwide!
Previous Blog: Guest Blog, “Don’t Give Up: Inspiring Words from Dahiana”
Click here to donate to our Dollar-a-Mile Campaign and learn more about the fundraiser.
To learn more about Girls Soccer Worldwide and what we do, click here.