CARACAS – A visit to Venezuela is not your average trip. For security reasons, we are unable to leave our hotel without our local contact, and when we do go into the favelas to visit the project we have to be out by five o’ clock sharp to avoid putting ourselves in danger.
The social and economic situation in Venezuela is one of disarray. The people have nothing – not even enough to buy basic food and supplies. The supermarket shelves are sparse at best, with flour, rice, pulses and meat rare. In the worst cases, there isn’t even any water to buy.
The children taking part in the Inter Campus project are all very slim, and even those with a little weight on them last year are now skinny, even underweight. Yet despite the tough times, football still provides a moment of happiness for these youngsters.
The football pitch is becoming the meeting point for the community, as well as the favourite place of the children of San Isidro.
That said, there are days when only a few children turn up for training. We ask why, and the answer is as simple as it is terrifying: shots have been fired and 13 are dead so far. Mothers are locked inside with their children and won’t let them come to training. It’s safer inside and there is a chance our sessions could be suspended if the tension doesn’t dissipate.
It’s hard to comprehend for us, but this is the reality of the situation, however unjust it is.
We vow to keep the project going, confident that the values of sport will bring benefit to this delicate place, hopeful that our next report will be a more positive one.