Forgive me for not updating for a while, been quite busy lately, not least having a look at the political events unfolding in Egypt, Tunisia and spreading to Yemen and Jordan and perhaps elsewhere too. It’s quite incredible really, revolutions spreading throughout the region and hopefully toppling long-standing dictators supported by supposdely Western democratic governments. It seems a little odd to me when a few countries will invade Iraq, eventually claiming it’s for democracy, while propping up dictators all over the world for various ends. There’s a long list of the USA and the UK overthrowing democratically elected leaders too and replacing them with oppressive dictators… the hypocrisy in the governments is mindblowing at times, but now we have the information coming out and the power to fight back somuch more effectively! To my mind I think food prices really started this fight. The poor countries have been given such a rough deal in trade rules and negotiations that now the prices of the staple foods has risen by almost a third. That people can’t get access to the means to life is reason enough for them to rebel, it’s necessary but perhaps not sufficient. The sufficient aspects have arguably come from the wikileaks cables and the technology to organise. With Egypt planning million man marches in advance, protests across the country and getting true information out have become so much easier. For example, the media has been reporting that motorcycle gangs of protestors have been roaming the streets at night looting and killing people. However citizens have captured some of them while defending themselves and their homes and been able to send out the information that every one of the motorcyclist looters they captured had a secret police id (bbc). What comes next is most interesting to me, does Mubarak get replaced with a different dictator, an easily manipulated ‘democracy’, or does something else come and not only claim to represent the people but actually gives power to them? Let’s hope so.
If you’ve been following the updates here for a while you’ll know about Payatas, a rubbish dump in Manila where tens of thousands people live making a living off the garbage dumped there… living off what the rich throw away. Recycling for plastic, metals, etc. for making something or for selling to scrapyards. These people are incredibly hardworking and intelligent and if given the opportunity (such as with education sponsorships, etc.) some are top of their classes in the charity schools we have and beat competition from the wealthy private schools to win awards and trophies such as quizbee, spellingbee, etc.
So, given recent interest in Philippine football, with the Philippine team in the Street Child World Cup winning the shield and the Azkals’ success being shown on tv while the controversy over the political side of football was all over the press, we’ve managed to get people interested in grass roots football. Later in the year we will be opening a drop-in centre for street kids, the intial goal being to get them off drugs, usually sniffing glue, then into education and then to assess whether they would be best in the children’s home (if abused or without family) or whether it might be possible to get them back into their families and sponsor the family in an education programme (if poverty alone is the reason for them being on the street). What we’re doing, then, is tying this kind of help with football. Already Tondo have a really good football team, street kids who live on or near a different rubbish dump in the Philippines, but with football we can tie in long-term help, education and a home. Football is an expression of our physical sides, our competitiveness and cooperation at the same time, something for fun and something for work too. We can use football as the draw to help so many people and so far it’s started quite well! We went to the barangay captain (local government officer) and pitched the idea, they agreed to let us use their facilities for that week and to spread the word round. We ended up with over 100 people on a basketball court trying to play football! The interest and passion was amazing, it was just impossible to actually get any football training in :p
So now, we’re planning three teams instead! One in Payatas, one in Kasiglahan – the other area we work where the children’s home is located – and one in Commonwealth where we are looking to open the first drop-in centre for street kids. With a bit of training we can form a league between several local teams and hopefully later there will be provincial teams (more like Manchester and Liverpool) which will firm up football in the Philippines, while all of it will be tied to helping the poorest people. Should be awesome 😀
So that was the first half of the day, the football. After that success and seeing the interest there we went to the birthday party of the husband of the private secretary of the British Ambassador with the kids at Mango, the children’s home. The Ambassador and his wife came and the kids all played games with them after swimming in the pool, had loads of fun and everyone loved it! Very successful day!
So, with political revolutions across North Africa and spreading into the Middle East, a football revolution is coming in the Philippines! Both will hopefully bring great change and help to so many people. Of course the political revolution deserves as much attention as possible, but just a quick update on what we’re doing in the Philippines 😀
Photos to follow!