The 2008 CSAC Champion and NCAA Tournament Qualifiers Marywood University Women's Soccer Team recently donated old uniforms to a school in Guatemala through the help of Javier Diaz, a Resident Director at Marywood. Diaz went on a service trip in late May facilitated through Marywood's Campus Ministry to deliver the uniforms.
Senior Captain Lisa Hanselman (Manheim, PA), who is also a resident assistant in Regina Hall, put Diaz in touch with Head Coach Andrew Smith prior to Diaz's trip. "Javier was looking for old items, such as used balls, to donate, and we were planning on sending old uniforms to Eurosport's (a soccer supplier company) "Passback Program," which donates old items to underprivileged people around the world" Coach Smith said. "We figured by donating the goods through Javier, we would at least know where they ended up."
The itinerary for the service trip includes visiting two cities. The first city the group went to was San Lucas de Toliman. In this city, the group worked with other schools like Loyola (New Orleans) and Rice (Texas) in efforts to improve coffee production and a reforestation project. The coffee project included but was not limited to manual labor (carrying sender blocks from one location to the next in order to speed up the building process) and picking bad coffee beans from 100 pound sacks of dried coffee beans. The manual labor was directly related to a coffee bean station which was being built by masons which would allow the church the ability to dry more coffee beans which results in more coffee and more product. The reforestation project is as simple as putting dirt in a plastic bag but the project does not limit itself to that. Both these service projects are sponsored and run by the church. The Monsignor of the church is Father Gregory, an American priest which was sent by the Catholic Church in the 1950's.
The second town the group traveled to was Chichicastenango. This is where the uniforms were distributed. While there, the group helped a school which Sister Donna Korba, IHM is associated with. Sister Donna was stationed at the school (Internado de Ninas Indigenas, Centro Educativo Anunciata) for a number of years, and has since returned to Marywood, now serving as the Director of Social Justice at the IHM Center. The school's mission is to help the indigenous people of Guatemala and is a private school which allows families to pay only as much as they can. Guatemala has the second highest illiteracy rate in the world, which makes private school all more important. The school is comprised of indigenous boys and girls. The girls live at the school with the Sisters of Dominica, away from their parents 10 months out of the year.
The boys from the sixth and eighth grades at Chichicastenango received the donated uniforms. "The coach at first did not want to accept such a gift because he noticed the cost of one uniform (47 USA dollars)" Diaz said. "He almost started to cry. He promised there is great potential for some of the kids to play professional soccer. He will utilize them for tournaments which they regularly have."
"We are certainly glad these old uniforms will help better the quality of life for these future stars" Smith said. "Often, young kids in these countries play soccer in bare feet and worn out clothing and balls. These uniforms will certainly make them feel more like a team, and we are just glad we could help out in some small way."
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