October 17, 2013
Eradicating poverty is perhaps the most crucial issue the world faces.
It is an issue that can only ever be solved by the collaboration of governments, organisations and individuals.
It is in this spirit, as the world marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, that we at Laureus remain committed to helping better the lives of people who suffer the grip of low wealth.
This work is no better demonstrated than the Sport for All sports project in South Africa.
Just miles from the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, the men, women and children of Palmridge township live in homes built from little more than scrap.
An estimated 700,000 people live here. Conditions are cramped and, despite being surrounded by an industrial area, unemployment is high.
It is little surprise luxuries such as sport and places to play are hard for the youngsters to come by.
Thankfully, however, they are not all lost.
Past a patch of what looks like a rubbish dump, an unlikely expanse of field sits at the town’s edge. It is a place where the area’s young people can come with friends to play cricket, kick a football around, even play netball. A place where they know they are safe.
It is a place where they can escape from the cramped houses in which some of them live.
This is thanks to the work of the Laureus-supported Sport for All project, an incredible venture that is helping change the lives of young people from the township in remarkable ways and helping them deal with life in poverty.
A project leader at Sport for All, says: “The people here live in squatter camps. They don't have proper housing, sanitation, water or electricity
"These kids are so often without the right information about the government departments that can help. So, with our assistance, they can approach the right people for grants, clothes, housing and food… we want them to be something in life. That’s the message we’re trying to give.
And the changes have proved profound.
“We are seeing the impact. One girl,” he explains, “whose parents died of Aids, was particularly vulnerable. She was ill. She stopped going to school. But we encouraged her to go back and were even able to support her with her school fees.”
“She succeeded and completed her high school studies. Now she wants to give back to us and she coaches other kids that are suffering now as she once did. She is making sure they have a new lease of life too.
This incredible work is being done throughout the world, proving sport isn’t just great fun but really can change lives.