By Elisa Lamego (Local coordinator of Street Child World Cup Brasil)
Team Brazil girls made an impressive appearance alongside Street Child World Cup last week at a model United Nations meeting in the British School of Rio de Janeiro. It was a long journey for the girls who travelled from their homes in Complexo da Penha in the north zone of the city to the south zone neighbourhood of Urca which sits in the shadow of the world famous Sugarloaf mountain. The model United Nations is an academic simulation of the UN that aims to educate participants about current events, ask topics in international relations, diplomacy and the UN agenda.
The girls received an incredibly warm welcome from the audience of 300 pupils who were participating, many of whom they have grown to know over the past year ahead of the Street Child World Cup. Indeed, it was British School pupils who provided such incredible support to the girls when they won the Street Child World Cup at Fluminense Football Club in Laranjeiras on 6 April.
The Street Child World Cup partnership with the school has included regular assemblies on the issues faced by street children, a fundraising dinner in support of the organisation and of course football games between the girls from Penha and the pupils of the school. It has become a partnership based on friendship and this is symbolised best by the relationship the girls have built with the pupils of the school and vice versa. It was moving to hear Coach Philip Veldhuis speak about the impact of the Street Child World Cup on the girls and how it had sparked them to dream beyond the circumstances of where they live. The girls are now taking English classes every week inspired by those they met during the event.
Dhryka, Captain of the team, thanked the British School for their support and brought tears to the eyes of audience members when announcing that the Street Child World Cup was “the best thing” that ever happened to her. Dhryka also demanded a “partida de revanche” (a rematch) following the theme of games between the two groups.
We will ensure this happens and the talk this time is that the teams might be mixed.
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“No child should have to live on the streets and I fully endorse this campaign giving street children a voice to claim their rights”
“No child should have to live on the streets. I commend the Street Child World Cup for providing a platform for the rights of street children to be heard.”