A group of Methodists have flown over to Brazil for the kick-off of the Street Child World Cup (SCWC) in Rio de Janeiro.
The Street Child World Cup is a global campaign for street children to receive the protection and opportunities that all children deserve. Through football, art and an international street child conference, the aim of the ten day tournament is to challenge the negative perceptions and treatment of street children. The charity Casa Alianza Nicaragua began a programme in 1998 to work with “at risk” children in response to the thousands of children living on the streets.
Over the past two years, Methodist children and young people have been encouraging local churches to help raise £30,000 for the SCWC by organising fundraising events of their own. In Bristol, young Methodists organized a fundraising event that was supported by the whole District. The Revd Ward Jones, District Chairman, volunteered to be gunked in a Cheshire cat onesie to raise money to sponsor two teams from Nicaragua – a girls’ team and a boys’ team – to take part in the tournament in Rio.
Tamara Wray, Methodist Youth President, said: “The Street Child World Cup really can change the lives of street children; the young people who participated in the SCWC in Durban in 2010 are now all working and living independently because of Casa Alianza. They all speak about the motivation and inspiration that they gained from the experience. This is why we, along with our Methodist volunteers who are in Rio helping out during the event, are proud to be backing the Street Child World Cup because no child should ever have to live or work on the streets.”
The charity responsible for putting together the Nicaraguan teams is Casa Alianza. Through a holistic programme of sports, art, therapy, group sessions, education and spirituality, Casa Alianza not only provides a safe haven but also a place where these street children can equip themselves for a better life.
Roseanne Levermore is a ONE programme participant for the Joint Public Issues Team. She will be one of a group of Methodists supporting Team Nicaragua in Rio today. “I am really looking forward to working with the Street Child World Cup and helping to run their ‘Fringe’ sessions in Rio,” she said. “This is a really exciting part of the project that happens away from the football pitch in the evenings. The children and young people will be given a chance to reflect on the day, and a quiet space amongst the excitement of the tournament. My role within the fringe team is to coordinate the ‘Relax’ sessions. These involve yoga, art therapy, sign language to music, hair braiding, sewing, cooking, and practical classes including computer skills to name but a few.”
Following the Street Child World Cup, the Methodist Church in Britain will continue to support the work of Casa Alianza in Nicaragua. Youth President Tamara Wray will take part in a 10 kilometre charity run on 1 June. “As people, we always look for the happy ending as this provides us with comfort,” added Tamara. “The Street Child World Cup is not the happy ending: it’s the beginning. So please support the SCWC and Casa Alianza in the fantastic work that they are doing.”