A group of Carolina Day School eighth grade Spanish students went on a service-learning tour through Peru. The group spent two days working alongside residents of a village in the Sacred Valley of the Andean Highlands for their service-learning project. Carolina Day School eighth-grader Peyton Jenkins organized a partnership with the organization Charity Ball, a soccer charity that provides new, quality soccer balls to kids in poverty-stricken communities around the world. The group hand-delivered 12 soccer balls to children in the small village where they were volunteering. Students also spent time playing with the children, kicking the soccer balls around and coloring.
Peyton Jenkins ‘20 wrote about her experience:
“Soccer is such a beautiful and amazing sport that brings people together no matter what language you speak, your age, race, or gender. Every time I play soccer I feel as if I entered another world. Ever since I was little, I have always loved the game and I cannot imagine someone not being able to play it. I learned this year that kids all over the world don’t even have a soccer ball to play with while I have maybe 5 sitting in my garage. The reason I came to this realization was because last year we were all gathered in the Nash gym for town meeting and we watched a video about Ethan King, a teenager who founded an amazing non-profit organization called Charity Ball.
Charity Ball provides, new, quality soccer balls to kids in poverty-stricken communities all over the world. I was so moved and inspired by this one video that I instantly got involved. From that point on, I was trying to find a way that I could make a difference in kids lives through soccer. Coincidentally, I had signed up to go on the eighth grade Peru trip and I found out that we would be doing some service work in an impoverished community within the Sacred Valley. After I heard about that, I did some research about the town we would be visiting called Ollantaytambo. Throughout this process, I had the privilege to work with Ethan and his family to make preparations for the trip. The next thing I knew I remember coming home from school and seeing a box with 12 soccer balls from Charity Ball. Then only a couple of days of packing later, I was off to Peru along with nine other eighth-graders and my teachers, Ms. Ogle and Ms. Heskamp.
Once we all got to Peru, it was jam-packed action from the moment we got off the plane. The week went by in a blink and only after a couple of days of touring around Peru, we finally went to a small community near the city, Ollantaytambo. Throughout the trip, I was struck by how much poverty there was in Peru. Four walls with sheet metal roofs requiring rocks to hold them down were the houses that I saw in this village. I noticed how that the nearby soccer field was overgrown, no nets on the goals, and nobody playing. I remember thinking to myself how back at home I play soccer on beautiful fields, professional soccer balls and goals with nets, while these kids did not even have a single soccer ball. But now that I think about it, I realize that the poverty I was seeing and the poverty worldwide doesn’t have to be a completely sad thing. They may not have had many worldly possessions, but I still saw happiness in their faces. Also, it brings the best out of the rest of the world as many come from other continents to help these impoverished communities and share their joy, happiness and talents.
I remember these thoughts encircling my mind as we worked in the community by helping to build a workplace for a group of women to set up their business of weaving. For two days we all had a ton of fun working on the project and on our last day, we all made memories that we will treasure forever. On the last day, we got to hand out all of the soccer balls to the kids in the community. I remember us all bringing the soccer balls into the village and watching the kids’ faces light up. I could feel their excitement! I remember before we handed the balls out, we stored all of them in a small building near the worksite and all of the kids were peeking in through the open doorway, peering at all of the soccer balls in the corner. The word spread and kids started coming out of the woodwork. They even started to help us with our jobs, making working so much more fun. All of the kids loved helping us and after about an hour of working, we had all become tight friends, which would make handing out the soccer balls even more special. When it came time go up to the field and play soccer, I remember handing the balls out to kids and their smiles and sparkles in their eyes made me overwhelmed with joy and a little teary eyed. All the kids were so excited that we all ran up to the field and when we got there, everyone dispersed with all of the balls and started playing and laughing. I remember thinking to myself about how what once was an empty and sad looking field was now filled with a ton of excited and happy kids playing soccer and having a ton of fun. I stood there for a second and tried to take it all in. I remember running around with all of the kids and watching them play gave me feel a new level of happiness. I can still hear the laughs the sounds of soccer balls bouncing on the grass. I realize how something as simple as one soccer ball can change lives, mine, my classmates and every kid who was there. This is something I know we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
Charity Ball is such an amazing organization that I know I will be working with a lot in the future. Soccer is such an amazing and beautiful game that truly brings people together and I loved being able to share it with these kids. Through this I truly realized the true impact of doing things for others. I will remember that day for the rest of my life and I hope that I can keep finding places like this community in Peru to give soccer balls to kids around the world. I hope that you will be as inspired as I was to spread joy to kids around the world through soccer.”