WEEK #66 HOW ARE WE DOING? Donation made in Medellin, Colombia!

In 2006 he came to Medellín, Colombia. Now, in 2014, he has 240 children playing football and going to school. They are children that were first living on the streets, each with their own story to tell of how they got there. The have learned about norms and values, know what respect is and know that if they want to achieve something in life, they have to work for it. His foundation is Fundación Caminos and his name is Ed Veldhuisen. 99%RIDE visited him to see how he works and how we could help out.

IMG_9085We meet at the metro station in the neighbourhood Floresta, one of the nicer neighbourhoods in Medellín. Ed is taking me to another neighbourhood, where there is more poverty; to show me one of the three locations he is currently working.
After about an hour we arrive at the football field. No grass here, just sand, stones and two goalposts. There are also about 25 children, all from this neighbourhood, which is situated high in the mountains looking over this beautiful city. Some of the kids are wearing an 
orange jersey, some are not. Why is this? When a child does well in school (consistantly) and shows up at football practise for three months without missing a game or practise they receive a jersey. The children with the “Naranja Mecánica” jersey, meaning the “Orange Machine”, the nickname of the Dutch National football team given by Latin Americans, form a team. The kids have learned to work together, to respect each other and to work for something if they want to achieve something in life.

IMG_9098The jersey has a meaning, it’s a symbol, and it’s a way of life. The kids wearing it feel good about themselves; they are part of something great. In Colombia football is very, very popular. It is a sport deeply embedded in the culture; it runs through the veins of Colombians. When you are part of a team, people look up to you, and in the case of Naranja Mecánica, it has a very positive effect on the children.

When Ed Veldhuisen started out he went to the streets to play with the children. This was their home, their safe haven. Most of them didn’t have anything else, apart from a visit to one of the shelters or orphanages for a shower, a good sleep and a meal once in a while.
More and more kids off the street joined Ed and his football practise; word of mouth was going fast, a former professional coach from “Holanda” was teaching and playing football in Medellín! He decided to make a team, and from there on things changed rapidly, Fundación Caminos was born.IMG_9077

Fundación Caminos now has several teams playing in the football leagues spread out over Medellín. 240 children participate in the foundation and this number is growing steadily. In 2015 the Foundation will start a new program for the existing volunteer trainers who are helping Ed with Fundación Caminos. They will be learning how to help the children even more, speaking more often on a personal level and finding out what their situation is. This will make sure there is enough personal contact and guidance.

All of the children that start playing with Fundación Caminos change in a positive way. I’ve been lucky enough to witness this first-hand. The work Ed Veldhuisen is doing is quite amazing, and it has really touched me. It’s good to see there are people out there willing to make a change in children’s lives.
The orange jersey Fundación Caminos gives to the children is a symbol for all the work, effort and positive results that have been achieved. It is a personal achievement for the kids, one that will last them a lifetime.
99%RIDE is very proud and honoured to be able to sponsor 300 new uniforms (socks, shorts and a jersey) to Fundación Caminos. The uniforms will be made and used in 2015. Watch this video and meet Ed Veldhuisen, the children and see where your donation is going.

The street children of Medellín deserve to have a chance to make something of their life, and Ed Veldhuisen is doing exactly that; creating the opportunity and changing the way they think through football. Fundación Caminos is a project that I will never forget; it is an example and inspiration for others.

Thanks to all our supporters this has been made possible. You are really making a difference.

From Medellín, Colombia,

Dirk Spits

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