The Hummingbird Holiday of Festivals for Children at Risk
15 July 2003

This Festival is a five-week event aimed at providing activities for young students during school breaks. The Festival is also an opportunity to recruit new, young volunteers and strengthen relationships with existing ones.

The Hummingbird Activity Centre programmes are primarily preventive in nature, directed at community children and young people, to promote confidence, character, competence, and "connectedness" amongst the children’s family, peers and local communities.

These programmes provide a range of support and services in such areas as vocational training, health education, recreation, cultural tolerance and understanding, racial reconciliation, artistic expression, environmental awareness and develop skills in leadership, conflict resolution and decision-making.

In addition, the centre supports the demands of our rehabilitation programme, serving the needs of already rescued street children or those coming off the streets.

Since the opening of the new centre in November of 2001, the organization has increased its prevention programme considerably, the numbers attended rising from 80 to 500 children and young people in regular activities. Consequently, the number of volunteers, both national community and international, has also risen considerably during this last year.

Today, most of the practical work at the centre is carried out with the help of 25 community youth volunteers aged between 18 and 30 years, either former street children, drug addicts or traffickers and juvenile delinquents. The majority having backgrounds similar to those of our target population and whom, after having succeeded in overcoming a great many of the difficulties so common to most inhabitants in our region, yearn to implement necessary changes to help break the chain of poverty and violence so profound in their society.

After an initial planning phase, involving all regular staff and volunteers at Hummingbird, Tuesday, July 15, was chosen as take-off day for the first festival. Football, being the most popular of all sports in Brazil, was the obvious choice for this festival.

CARF's Hummingbird F.C. already has a membership base of nearly 100 children and youngsters between the age of 7 and 21 years, each attending regular activities at the centre, at least three days per week.

As clearly stated in the Magglingen Declaration of February 18, 2003 , local sports is the ideal place for bringing young people together and it can help overcome barriers of race, religion, gender, disability and social background.

The Hummingbird Activity Centre gives top priority to sports as a preventive tool against street migration and in its work rehabilitating and integrating street children. Besides football, the centre has had enormous success with Capoeira, this being our longest standing, most important and effective programme for the recuperation of street children and to prevent street migration of other children at risk. A team of four young community volunteers runs the regular football training sessions at Hummingbird and it was therefore obvious to leave the organizational aspects of the championship in their capable hands.

The Hummingbird Holiday Festival of Football

As expectations were high regarding this first festival event we needed to plan for the participation of at least 150 children in what was to become a mini-championship over a three-day period. Categories were divided according to age; Infants between 7 and 12 years of age, Juniors between 13 and 16 years of age, youth between 17 and 21 years and a special category for girls between 13 and 17 years of age. As of yet, there are no regular girls groups in the Hummingbird F.C., the festival was therefore an ideal opportunity to evaluate if such an interest is worth considering in the future.

Besides the actual championship itself, there were obviously many other necessities to be taken into consideration during the three-day long event. One of these was to animate all the impatient children present, waiting for their turn to play. No mean task, but nevertheless a task which was well dealt with by our young but most experienced Capoeira Master Chulapa, who took charge for warming up the awaiting athletes before each game. Chulapa has been a community volunteer for our programme for many years but now works on a fixed basis running our Capoeira Centre for 250 at-risk community kids.

It is thanks to his devoted efforts that many of our former street children have stayed off the streets and themselves developed to become capoeira instructors for other at-risk children at our centre. The third Holiday Festival at Hummingbird will be dedicated to this remarkable, traditional, Brazilian national and international sport. Our onsite volunteer web designer, Justin from Australia, is preparing a special website presenting our Capoeira Centre as part of his web training activities with youth at Hummingbird. The website will be stressing the values of Capoeira as a most important tool in the social arena of work involving children and youth at risk.

As many of our children would probably begin the day without any breakfast before appearing for their football game, we obviously needed to have sufficient structure to cope with the demands of hungry participants. Here the mobilization of volunteer mothers from the community always guarantees coverage of such a demand and this event would be no exception. At Hummingbird we keep a mobile kiosk for use at popular events to assist us in spreading information about our work and serving the needs of hungry passers-by. This time the kiosk was mounted outside on the grounds, alongside the football pitch, causing it to become a central meeting point during the entire festival.

Refreshments included delicious, freshly baked mini-pizzas, prepared by one of our former street children, 15 year old Robison, who also trains part-time in a local pizza restaurant. Robison certainly put into practice everything he is learning during his apprenticeship as a cook. His talented young hands created no less than 200 pizzas on the first day of the festival. Besides pizza, other favorite foodstuffs were served, having been prepared the night before by a group of community volunteers and mothers to some of the children at the centre. At Hummingbird we have a regular, early morning Aerobic gymnastics session for mothers of children attended by us. These sessions help us to cultivate positive and close relationships with mothers and also recruit some of them as community volunteers.

After three preceding days of rain, the festival day itself brightened up with traditional blue sky and plenty of hot sunshine, making the opening day a tremendous success for the many hundreds who had turned up. After three days of active football, the event terminated with our traditional prize-giving ceremony. A beautiful certificate, specially prepared by our onsite international volunteer Justin, was presented to all the participants at the festival, alongside the many trophies and medals awarded to the smiling and satisfied children and young people in our programme.

Our thanks go to all our volunteers, without them nothing would be possible at Hummingbird.

From: Children At Risk Foundation, Brazil

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