Each summer for the last four years, a community on the outskirts of Soacha, Colombia, has gathered to watch its children play in their own, local version of the World Cup – a soccer tournament for peace.
In Soacha, where many families have experienced conflict, displacement and violence, MCC partner Creciendo Juntos offers children and youth after-school tutoring, activities and workshops on themes of peace and nonviolence. Creciendo Juntos, whose name means “Growing Together,” is a partner of a local Mennonite church.
The staff at the organization, many of whom are students at a nearby university, run a variety of programs year-round. From games to academic support, to specialized activities like a workshop on violence against women for International Women’s Day, everything that goes on at Creciendo Juntos works to impart a message of peace.
One of the most popular activities of the year is Mundialito por La Paz, Soacha’s “Little World Cup for Peace.” This past summer, the event drew 81 children from ages 6 to 17.
Soccer is so huge in Colombia – these kids are already spending so much of their free time playing anyway. And all of the activities at Creciendo Juntos are related to peace and nonviolence, so Mundialito is a way of combining the two.”