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New youth initiative - what do I do now?


TrueBrit

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I was recently approached by Hector, the new delegado, and asked if I would become involved in a new youth program he has helped set up. It is a soccer program to help give the poorest kids in Ajijic something positive to do with their time - not only as a bulwark against drugs and crime, but something instructive and hopeful.

I have been working with them for a month or two now and I am so impressed with the amount of time and effort the adults put in to make this a success. The kids (about 60 in total) are never late for practice - which is 5 days a week and is quite grueling. The coach, Giovani, has dedicated just about all his free time for these kids. He has provided as much as he can - but he is unemployed and like the rest of the adults helping out, life is a struggle. He has arranged free physical exams for them, cut a deal with the Gymnos gym, and takes care of the liaison with the village.

We play against other teams in the area on Saturdays and the first thing you notice is that the other teams have uniforms and soccer shoes that do not show the player's toes. We wear 'casacas' - the vests that cashiers wear, and some of the kids cannot afford soccer shoes.

I would like to help them by garnering community support. I would like to develop community partnerships perhaps with local business, perhaps in exchange for advertising space on a website I am setting up as well as in all community correspondence. I am hoping they can buy uniforms with their business name on the shirt. I would also like to introduce the program directly to the ex-pat community, inviting them to practices and games, meeting the kids - and perhaps sponsoring a child in need. I would like to avoid asking just for contributions and it may be naïve, but I would like to see it more as a bridge between the ex-pat community and the Mexican community.

I have no experience in the fund raising side of things. I sponsor a child in Africa and South America, so I have only seen how this operates from the donor side. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can go about getting support for these village kids? Does anyone out there have experience or know of contacts that would be useful? Anybody who would like to meet us or talk to me directly can come to the soccer field on the corner of the carretera and Revolucion (across from Plaza Bugambilias) - Mon, Tues and Thursdays at 5pm. Soccer matches are on Saturdays.

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I love both what you are doing and how you are doing it. I am sponsoring three kids down here now but would like to know more info about what a sponsorship would entail. This sounds like fun. Thanks,

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Hi SatnRose

Thanks very much for your response. I am at the soccer field (upper) on Mondays and Tuesdays at 5 until 7pm. You can ask for me, Phil - or Felipe as the kids all call me. On Friday, we will be at Gymnos Lake gym on the carretera from 4pm to 5pm - the kids work out on the exercycles for an hour, courtesy of a deal with Gymnos gym. We then walk back to the soccer fields at about 5pm. We will then be at the LOWER soccer field (Revolucion and Constitucion/Camino Real). I give all the kids (and any assorted adults present) an hour of English instruction. The time of the Saturday game is decided on a Thursday and I find out about it then. Looking forward to meeting you. If you could make it to the gym on Friday at 4pm that would be great. Thanks again.

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