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Lindsay Weber spent some time in Guatemala this past February. Thanks to Brian Dunseth, Ben Hooper & Co, she first came across Charity Ball through a post on the The Original Winger. I’ll let her share the rest of the story…
In February 2013 I set out for my fourth annual trip to Guatemala. I travel with a team that is part medical, part construction. The year prior I had played soccer every day on our site with two little boys, brothers. I noticed over the years that most kids play with makeshift balls, either old and deflated or made of thin plastic and the size of a grapefruit. That year I spent $10 to get the two boys a real leather ball from a nearby market. The gift to them was such a prized possession that they went to hide their ball in a safe place instead of playing with it! When I returned home I looked into bringing more balls with me the next time and that is how I came across Charity Ball.
I ended up making space for 10 balls in my personal luggage. I tagged along with the construction crew on the day they were visiting a 4 classroom school in a rural village. We traveled up a winding dirt road to be met by jubilant children dressed in the traditional Mayan clothing. We installed stoves and water filters, played soccer and basketball with the minimal equipment they had, and enjoyed a dance performance they put on.
We finished the day with my presentation and I had kept the balls in a large black bag to keep it a surprise. By the time I pulled out the first ball I was completely swarmed. I felt like Santa at Christmas! The kids were all smiles and laughter and pickup games broke out in the courtyard right away. I included a pump and extra needles for maintenance and the teachers of the school expressed their gratitude. When we left, the kids rang alongside our bus and waved us off all the way out of the gate.
This kind of experience is just as rewarding when you’re on the giving end as it is for those receiving a gift. The country of Guatemala is so incredibly poor and yet the people are so resilient. Something as simple as a ball really can spread joy. It truly is the beautiful game, in more ways than one.
Lindsay, way to go. Thanks for sharing the beautiful game with others. Let us know when you’re going back and well set you up with some more balls.