Open/Close Menu Empowering children in Argentina to kick poverty's ass

A positive attitude can transform a problem into a challenge. At 18 years old, Damián can confirm that.

Damián joined El Desafío in 2013, motivated by the soccer program. “If there’s soccer, I’ll be there”, he sums up with a smile. In every game, he proved to be very skillful, driven and persevering, among other aptitudes but, unfortunately, last year he suffered a knee injury that now keeps him from the field.

That did not knock him down. It gave him the opportunity to show the same aptitudes in a different situation because, instead of giving up to the pessimistic diagnosis, he was strong enough to wait for five months for the surgery that finally took place. For the past year, he has been in physical therapy. “The physical therapist says I’ll be fine if I stop going but I want to keep going because I want to feel 100% OK, and I’m not there yet”, he tells us, convinced and persevering.

His positive attitude transformed his knee problem into a new challenge because, although he couldn’t keep training, in the past months, he started volunteering in the soccer program Hay Equipito for kids aged 14 and 15. “My dream is to play soccer professionally. If it can’t be done, then I feel like I understand why this obstacle was put in my path – so that I could move pass it and see a new future for myself. Playing soccer is what I want the most but, if I can’t do that, then maybe I can be a coach or any other participant in the field”.

Besides getting his high school diploma, Damián attended Distensionate, an electricity program in which he picked up the first concepts that would help him take his first steps into the workforce. Last summer, he worked on AC installations.

“I like working with children because I feel that, if you give them a helping hand, then they are off the streets, especially away from drugs”.

Damián also participated in the Leadership program, which taught him a lot about communication to help in his new role of Assistant Coach in the soccer practices. “In the Leadership program I learnt how I would have to communicate with the kids if I were a volunteer. Truth is that I do feel like I’ve changed a lot in terms of communicating. When I was a player, I was one of those kids who hate losing, who yell a lot, but now I feel that I don’t have to be like that if I play. They helped me understand that it’s only a game, whether you win or lose”.

Packed with a restless, dreamful and avid personality, he tells us “I want to learn new things – I like learning new things. Especially, I enjoy working with tools”.

Damián’s commitment and gratitude towards El Desafío are endless. He feels like a part of it and he is! He wants to “give back for every opportunity” that was given to him and he does so constantly by getting involved and choosing to follow closely the kids that attend every day. “I like working with children because I feel that, if you give them a helping hand, then they are off the streets, especially away from drugs”, he explains, serious and committed.

His story is about overcoming difficulties. It is a clear example of resilience that shows us that a positive attitude can break down walls and open up new paths. Damián teaches us a great lesson, as true giants do.

THE CITY OF ROSARIO ACCORDING TO DAMIÁN

“The city has gotten dangerous – there’s a lot of poverty. Many kids are missing their childhood and turning to drugs. So I try to explain to those kids that are in the corners getting high that they’re ruining their lives by doing that. And they listen but also ask me to stay out of it. Still, I try to let them know because I don’t like seeing kids like that”.

Poverty is another thing I don’t like about this city – there are a lot of kids on the street. Crime is also an issue. It’s terrible to have to worry every time you’re out on the streets. I was mugged twice but I’m lucky I wasn’t harmed”.

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© 2016 El Desafío Foundation | Accept the Challenge.
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