Week 3 and Going Strong!
Today is week three of our “It’s More Than A Game… It’s Hope” campaign and our entire organization is truly humbled and honored by the generosity of our faithful partners. For those of you who may be reading this and are new to our campaign, we’re happy you’re here. For those just learning about our organization for the very first time, allow us to introduce ourselves!
Our operation began in 2007 after the 14-year civil war in Liberia had ended. The need for a proactive service to help street kids was blatantly obvious, so our team went to work in establishing a program that could help. Today, we have had the privilege of serving more than 1,600 street children, Ebola orphans, and former child soldiers in Liberia. While we provide tangible resources to meet physical needs, we are also instilling in at-risk children the most precious tool available to them… hope.
A Hopeless Beginning…
In order to share how ‘hope’ is taking form in the lives of our program’s children, we’d like to tell you about Samson. Currently in his third year of the L.A.C.E.S. Program, Samson is a spirited boy whose life has been forever changed by our work…
When Samson first sat down to be interviewed by a L.A.C.E.S. staff member in Liberia, he was a bit stand-offish. It was explained to the staff member by Samson’s coach that his childhood was anything but stable. Throughout his years of living on the street, he had become jaded and overly protective of himself. It was a mindset that his coaches and mentors were helping him with at the L.A.C.E.S. program.
“Can you tell me where you’re from?” the staff member asked. “I’m from the streets,” Samson replied sharply. This was a common response from boys and girls dealing with his circumstances. They’re often shy when answering personal questions about their background.
Life on the Streets
After a bit more inquiry, Samson went on to say that he has not always lived on the streets. In fact, he had made the choice for himself to run away from home years ago. When he left, he turned away from his chance for an education in school, cut ties with his parents and lost all sense of structure in his life.
People who first hear of street children choosing to live in homelessness are often unable to understand it. This is nearly always due to a lack of context. For Samson, the streets seemed like a more stable environment for him than staying at home with his family. In fact, he says that he still knows where his family lives and that they often see each other in town. “Don’t they want you to come back home?” he was asked. Samson shared that they do, but that there is no food for him at home. He says when he was at home, he had to sell cold water to help his family. He grew tired of it and refused to sell any longer.
As the interview continued, Samson mentioned that he and his friends often wash pans and do other chores as a means of providing themselves with food and essentials. It was sobering to learn that the L.A.C.E.S. program is the only place where he is guaranteed meals each week. He continued by saying that apart from doing chores, he began stealing from local community members. This is a common occurrence for street children and further creates tension and stigma between them and their communities.
While the conditions and choices of Samson’s past are difficult, the work he is putting in to change his life now is admirable beyond his years. L.A.C.E.S. has become a refuge for Samson and a safeguard from his old tendencies. Samson’s coaches shared that his entire demeanor and outlook on the world is changing because of his involvement with our program. When he comes to L.A.C.E.S., he’s given three hot meals each week, a chance to play soccer with his friends in a safe space, and is receiving mentorship through our research-backed curriculum. Samson is no longer stealing from those within his community and has learned that he has more worth and value than that. Samson began his journey with L.A.C.E.S. in a state of hopelessness. He now has hope in the better days ahead of him.
At L.A.C.E.S., we give the vital hope of a better future back to street children like Samson every day. We have committed ourselves to continue empowering at-risk children from all over the world. But we can’t do it without you! When you give to our ongoing “It’s More Than A Game… It’s Hope” Campaign, you can rest assured that the money you give will go towards improving the lives of children in need. If you would like to give today, you can do so by going to www.laces.org/donate.