Notes from the Field: Ecuador

Follow our founder Mike Geddes as he depicts his time in Ecuador with one of our local hosts and Education First (EF)!

Mike Geddes

Fudela (Fundacions de las Americas) is a non-profit organization working to support underserved youth across Ecuador, with a specific focus on migration. Millions of refugees have fled to Ecuador from neighbouring Colombia and Venezuela, fleeing violence and economic collapse. Many walk for weeks to arrive at camps or to find a new home in cities like Quito, where employment opportunities are scarce and many are reduced to begging or crime. The situation also creates social tension with local communities, as in so many other places in the world. Additionally, many refugees come to Ecuador from places like Iraq, Syria, Turkmenistan, Congo and other places. Fudela uses soccer as a means of promoting social integration and tolerance but also to provide young people with pathways to education and employment.

Fudela was one of the first streetfootballworld network members to apply to be a third half Local Host and to go through the on-boarding process. We saw huge potential in the itinerary.

What a happy surprise it was to get here and find so many people so excited about the third half. It made so much difference to be here, to talk to people and share our vision. The organization is completely behind the vision and there are so many amazing young people here who I see can be the T3H leaders of the future. Here’s a quote from Program Coordinator Edith Paredes;

“The third half is very important because this is how we can find sustainability. We want to have real social impact, and for us this means we cannot only depend on donations. This is not the future we want. We want to connect the circle for our youth from education to employment and give them the chance to guarantee their livelihoods. It’s important that we focus on the social skills we can teach through sports but it’s also very important to offer our young people the chance for employment. Around the third half there are so many opportunities and these can all be led by our young leaders.”

We arranged for 40 high school kids who were in the middle of an Education First (EF ) tour to visit Fudela. We created a very simple version of the T3H curriculum and Fudela introduced the to their program and methodology, and we all had the chance to play football3 together (see attached pic of a combined US-Ecuador team). Some of the kids said the experience was the high point of their entire trip (!) and Kenzie Brastow, one of the teachers with the group, said the following;

“I think our kids are getting a really eye-opening experience. As teachers we try hard to teach them in the classroom but we know the most valuable teaching is usually outside of the classroom in life and with hands-on experience. So for them to see this country but also to get to interact with an organization which is really trying to do something about the issues which they see around them is really powerful for our kids to say ‘I want to be involved in the world, I don't just want to be a spectator, I want to attack things and think creatively about how to provide solutions, I think it’s been a really cool opportunity for them just to see that but also just to play and just be kids with people from another culture and community is incredible.”

The money generated by these EF trips will help Fudela a lot. To put that into context; Marilay (center of the pic) is single mom and a Venezuelan refugee who walked for 3 weeks across the border with her son and now works as a coach with Fudela. Thanks to 8 hours of programming (which was all existing Fudela activities), the organization can now pay Marilay’s stipend for 2.5 months.

Trips like these are what the third half is about: helping local hosts to provide for the community and opening the eyes of people experiencing these trips by using soccer to connect everyone in a memorable way!

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