A Father Figure for Emmanuel…

A Father Figure for Emmanuel

Pictured above, a boy in the L.A.C.E.S. Program named Emmanuel has his photograph taken in Kakata, Liberia

 

Stories that Matter…

For over 12 years, we at L.A.C.E.S. have been leveraging the power of sport to mentor at-risk children from all over the world. The kids we work with have faced extraordinary struggles due to complex global issues. These issues include the ongoing refugee crisis, generational poverty, corrupt governments, war, disease, and much more. When we look at the larger picture, it can feel overwhelming at times and discouraging. However, when reminded of the intrinsic value that our program’s children have, we’re assured that every ounce of effort we put into helping them matters. We treat each child enrolled in the L.A.C.E.S. curriculum as a top priority and love when we’re able to tell their stories of healing and restoration with others.

Emmanuel for instance, has an incredible story that deeply inspires us. Now in his third year of our program, he has come a long way from when we first met him. Recently in Liberia, we were able to sit down with him and hear about his experience being with L.A.C.E.S. in an effort to better share it with our friends and supporters.

Emmanuel’s Story

Pictured above, Emmanuel poses for a photo near the soccer field where he first joined the L.A.C.E.S. Program

Born into poverty, Emmanuel’s earliest days were filled with brutal hardship. He shared with us that when he was two years old, his mother became really sick, unexpectedly. She went to visit a local witch doctor for treatment and died due to malpractice. By the age of six, Emmanuel had officially run away from any stability available to him and had begun living on the streets full time. He spent his days with some older friends, selling water and any other items they could get their hands on. This became their only means of earning enough money to buy food to eat.

By the age of 12, Emmanuel started using drugs as a way to escape and cope with his circumstances. Without any guidance or adult supervision in his life, his personal narrative was becoming one that was headed towards despair. The future was bleak… hopeless even, and without any intervention, would surely end in destruction. This all changed when Emmanuel met Armstrong, the L.A.C.E.S. Community Coordinator for our operation in Kakata.

When Armstrong first began working for L.A.C.E.S, part of his role was to go into the community as a way to reach street children in need of our services. He shared with us that during this time, he found Emmanuel sleeping alone in an abandoned car. Armstrong was immediately alarmed at the sight of the young boy and began convincing him to participate in the L.A.C.E.S. program. He told Emmanuel of all of the incredible benefits he would receive when he came to L.A.C.E.S. and showed him the soccer field where he could find us at. The very next day, Emmanuel showed up to the program and has been coming back ever since.

The Difference in His Life…

We asked Emmanuel what kinds of things he has had the chance to learn over the course of the past three years. He responded by saying “Oh! I have learned so many things at L.A.C.E.S.! Like if someone does something (bad) to you, it is good to forgive that person. Honesty, team work, self-esteem, working with your opponents when they start acting up on the field and telling them to calm down, and all sorts of things.”

Emmanuel stated that L.A.C.E.S. has in fact changed his life. Through our program, he has gained a community that cares for him, learned invaluable life lessons, has received structure and stability, is able to eat three additional meals every week, and has stopped using drugs.

Pictured above, Emmanuel smiles for the camera in Liberia

While Emmanuel has benefited greatly from the positive changes mentioned above, he has found through L.A.C.E.S. something even more valuable…. a father figure. As Emmanuel was answering his final questions with us, he made a point to share how encouraged and valued he has felt from the personal investment of his coach, Armstrong. He says that although he never knew his own father, he felt that he has now found one and is very grateful. As he said all of these things, Armstrong reiterated every sentiment and agreed that he too sees Emmanuel as his own son.

 

We Need Your Help!

Pictured above, Emmanuel and Armstrong pose for a photo together in Liberia

Through our research-backed mentorship curriculum, devoted staff, active feeding program, and competitive soccer leagues, L.A.C.E.S. leverages the power of sport to change lives. We love the work we do, but understand that none of it would be possible without the commitment of our faithful donors. As an organization, we hold ourselves accountable to use donated funding to the highest ethical standard possible. We treat every donation we receive with reverence and a deep responsibility. If you’re interested in donating to our life changing work today, you can do so by clicking the link here! If you’d like to know more about our specific programs and approach, you can do so here. At L.A.C.E.S., “It’s More than A Game…”

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