Venezuela’s children-at-risk are now martial arts champs
When two of our members were in Venezuela last December, 2007, they saw children who were rescued from rubbish dumps, and given a new lease on life through new programs designed by the mayor of Liberatador and his team.
There are huge dumps receiving thousands of tons of rubbish daily from many municipalities near and in Libertador. They cause major problems of social and environmental contamination. Argenis Loretto, the mayor of Libertador and one of the architects of the community councils, explained the programs to rescue children working in these garbage dumps, many of whom were on drugs.
A centre for vulnerable children was established, called Liberatdor’s Chums. All the 300 children that came there had worked in the dumps, which are run by criminal mafias and are very dangerous. 98% of these children are now no longer attached to the criminals and are back in school. The children in this centre do karate, in which they win world-level medals, and music: an orchestra and a choir with 20 participants. (For our full account, see the last item in this posting or go to the CVEC blog: http://venezuelawearewithyou.blogspot.com/2008/12/libertador-pioneer-of-peoples-power.html)
We have just received word that the Libertador’s Chums have won 35 prizes in one month. Following is a translated article received as a news release from the municipality of Liberator press office.
Libertador’s Chums win 35 prizes in one month
Arduous and constant endeavour has brought its rewards to the martial arts artists of the Libertador’s Chums School.
In the national championship of kickboxing on July 19, the team of 20 competitors won 20 prizes, including in boxing, Eastern weapons, breaking solid objects, and personal defense.Then on August 16 the school took part in an international competition in Caracas, with teams from Portugal, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere, and gained a total of 15 prizes.
Among the winners was William Guevara, 17 years of age, who won the lightweight boxing championship competing against much more experienced competitors. Another winner was Angelica Escalona, who holds the pan-American record for breaking solid objects and also won a trophy in use of Eastern weapons.
Their teacher is Carlos Jaen, twice world champion in karate.
The Libertador’s Chums School teaches more than martial arts. It offers a social program that aims at the child or adolescent’s social inclusion and personal training activities that discover his or her potential.
August 27, 2008
Eyewitness Report: December 2007
Rescuing rag-picking children from a rubbish dump:
There is a huge dump in an urban area receiving 2,000 tons of rubbish daily from many municipalities besides Libertador. This causes major problems of social and environmental contamination. We have programs to rescue children working in the dump, many of whom are on drugs. Now they have a space and an orchestra of their own. The music is very effective as a way of expressing violent feelings through the drums and also of giving them a feeling of solidarity. e also have a group called “underground drums” (tambura clandestina” – young women with pots and pans.
Chamos (“chums”) del Libertador: This is an activities centre for vulnerable children. All the 300 children that come here worked in the dump, which is run by criminal mafias and is very dangerous. The trucks thunder past just outside the centre; the dump is located in the middle of the city. 98% of the kids are now no longer working there and are back in school. In this centre they do karate, in which they win world-level medals, and music: an orchestra and a choir with 20 participants. Martial arts serve to release violence and strengthen the youth spiritually and physically. The children learn all branches of martial arts and have competed in national and international games. Women lead in taking on some of the most difficult forms of martial arts just as they do the process as a whole. We witness a performance by an orchestra of 20 children playing drums and brass. The music is in the style of a samba band: very dramatic, with highly complex rhythms and sophisticated coordination among the band members. The skill level is high.
About 30 children give us a martial arts demonstration. They are skilled and courageous; but also mutually supportive, appreciative, and affectionate. Their facilities are very elementary: A cement shelter with bare walls, some cast-off mattresses, a few martial-arts weapons, and some scrap construction materials (very hard to come by), which they demolish with great flair.