Football in the United States, which reaches its high point each year during the Super Bowl, is the game the rest of the world calls American football. But for most of the world, football is soccer. In honor of both American football and the beautiful game — soccer — we celebrate young athletes around the world who play football.
Friends are vital for May Phoo Ko, who lives in Myanmar. Football helps create a team spirit and helps her understand the power of teamwork. “My friends call me Thay Thay (meaning small) because I am so small. They love me very much,” says May Phoo Ko. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)
Syrian refugee children cheer their friends on at one of two football pitches built by World Vision at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. The small patch of green is a bright spot in the drab desert camp. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Christopher Lee)
On a day when her community in Ethiopia celebrates a new water system built by World Vision, this girl receives another gift, too — a brand new soccer ball. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace Mukoma, 10, loves to play soccer at the World Vision Child-Friendly Space near his home in Central Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Girls at Santa Teresita Preschool in Guatemala play with a World Vision Gift Catalog soccer ball during their physical education class. Gift the gift of a soccer ball today! (©2015 World Vision/photo by Lindsey Minerva)
Even with a homemade ball incorporating plastic bags and string, the game goes on in Rwanda. Find out how to make your own homemade soccer ball. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Four-year-old Richard plays with a homemade soccer ball in front of his family’s home in Zambia. His mother, Beatrice Moondo, carries Richard’s little sister, Innete. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Alassane, 9, loves playing football with his friend. “On days when I don’t have lessons after lunch, I go to play football with my friends for the whole afternoon,” he says. Alassane (in striped shirt) is a World Vision sponsored child in Senegal. (©2016 World Vision)
Boys play soccer as the day’s light fades and the moon rises over Zambia. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Laotian primary school boys kick the soccer ball during a break from afternoon classes. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Khamphot Somphanthabansouk)
Boys play a friendly football game on artificial turf in Soracachi, Bolivia. Soccer is a national obsession there. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Eugene Lee)
Syrian refugee girls play soccer inside Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It was 10-year-old Zaynab’s first day to play the game. “I was goalkeeper, and I loved it! I saved one goal. I made new friends today. I will come and play every day,” Zaynab says. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Suzy Sainovski)
Steadied by his mother, Ani Chitemyan Razmik, 9, tosses a ball with his father at the family’s home in Armenia. Ani was born with infantile cerebral paralysis and was able to attend a World Vision-run summer camp, where he enjoyed “a holiday at least for a few days in his life,” says Ani’s mother, Marine. (©2009 World Vision)
By Iva Jovović, Guest Blogger*
In Croatia, the criminalization of sex work creates an unjust and gendered relationship between those engaging in the industry and the state. Sex workers, who are primarily female, face prosecution that often includes fines and jail time. In contrast, their customers rarely encounter consequences, unless they engage in sex with minors or victims of sexual exploitation. Living in a strict, conservative, and predominantly Catholic society, makes issues such as sex work and related terms a taboo subject within public and private conversations. The industry itself remains largely underground; women hide in the dark and buyers in cars. To most, sex workers are simply invisible. Due to this hostile environment, little research has previously been conducted on the sex industry in Zagreb—until now. Our organization, FLIGHT, implemented the first research project on sex workers and their clients, asking them why they got engaged with sex work, why they buy sex services, and their personal opinion on legislation. We also asked should sex work be legalized and should buyers be criminalized. Interviews were conducted from the end of March through May 2018, in public spaces, private, and offices of the respondents. In all, 15 female sex workers and 30 male buyers participated in the study.
Many pathways lead women to enter the sex industry, but poverty is a primary factor. Within Croatian society, sex work is perceived in a negative light, but our findings showed women were more concerned with the stigma around being poor. The women interviewed said they engaged in sex work because they are without a job and have huge debts. Many women indicated a lack of other employment opportunities and the need to take care of children. They needed the money and had few alternative options. One woman specifically needed to buy drugs, and others had no place to stay after residential care or moving away from a violent partner. Although social inclusion is a cornerstone of religious beliefs, the stigma of poverty overshadowed the stigma of being a sex worker. These results conflicted with expectations of a Catholic country with conservative and patriarchal structures.
People close to an individual can also play a significant role in influencing one to enter the industry. In six of the fifteen cases, a close friend (5) or a partner (1) persuaded the women to engage in sex work. Two women found themselves within the organized sex industry after visiting a party or responding to a modelling ad. Only two women independently decided to start with sex work after having various sexual experiences.
On the opposing side of the relationship, there are two main reasons why buyers engage in sex work: compensation and hedonism. A little more than half said they felt it compensated for a void in their life. Some of the examples provided include being single, lacking success with intimate relationships, marital issues, or having no time or desire for emotional commitment. Many of these men see their interactions with sex workers as a sort of intimate relationship involving spending private time together. The remaining men in our study said their primary motivation was hedonistic in nature. They were enticed by a sense of fun, pleasure, satisfaction, fulfillment of sexual desires, excitement, or curiosity.
Sex workers are aware of and face many risks in their job. Sex workers can face aggression from clients and pimps, as well as a risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Thus, 80 percent of those we interviewed expressed concern about their personal safety. The majority of their fear is connected to physical and financial issues. The women shared a concern about violent clients that may not want to pay. In addition, they feared being poor, especially as they become older. The lower socio-economic status can exacerbate their vulnerability to other crimes and being exploited. However, they are aware that sex work is not a lifelong solution and eight respondents (53%) showed concern about lack of money, lack of perspective, and lack of solutions for their retirement age: ˝I am afraid because of everything: if someone recognises me, of violent clients, of other sex workers because relations are disastrous. Of getting old, sickness…˝ Other sources of their concern are disease, prison, fear that someone would recognise them, fear from other sex workers, and unwillingness to continue with sex work in certain situations.
It is significant to mention that all respondents (100%) said that they have some concern about their health. These worries are connected with having no health insurance, feeling shame in front of medical staff, having other physical diseases, and having mental health problems connected with lack of perspective, anxiety and hostility toward their job. From our respondents, ten sex workers have medical insurance, but five do not.
It is these fears and concerns that sex workers feel the legalization of sex work would help address. The majority of the women interviewed believe it would improve working conditions, social rights, access to health insurance, and protection. One such example would be by reframing their relationship with police and clients. Some of the women interviewed relayed stories of police chasing, verbally harassing, and arresting them. Clients also engage in degrading behavior, including insulting the women and calling them worthless. In addition, five sex workers stressed how legal measures could ensure fair and loyal competition on the market, balanced prices, and protection of domestic sex workers from foreigners. They also suggested additional measures, such as providing social rights and combating corruption.
These findings provide clearer insight into the Croatian sex industry and will allow policymakers to more accurately address these issues. It is vital that the voices of sex workers continue to be heard and that laws affecting them are crafted through a worker-informed lens. For the first time, these findings can help alter how Croatian society understands an industry that faces stigmatization and discrimination. In order to provide greater protection for the women involved, we must continue to paint a fuller picture of the entire industry.
*Iva Jovovic holds a MA in Social Work, and has extensive research experience in and knowledge of harm reduction programs and human rights for key populations affected by HIV. The Life Quality Improvement Organization FLIGHT is a member of the Project DESIrE Consortium. FLIGHT has been implementing harm reduction programs since 2003 by providing outreach services to both drug users and sex workers.
** The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the position of the HTC.
Edited by Leah Breevoort, Deputy Director
Photo Credit: Project DESIrE
About the Human Trafficking Center
The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.
Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.
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God brings people into our lives in his perfect timing. When a team from our partners at Amazing Grace Life visited Honduras, they made themselves available to the Lord.
Great things happened! Read how author Amy Simmons Crafton shared her book and her heart with Pastor Roman and the children in a Honduran village.
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God has different ways of communicating with us. Some are obvious; some are not. As believers, we need to be available to God so he can use us. We also have to trust him and know he is working behind the scenes for his purposes and plans to be fulfilled. We don’t always know why things happen, but sometimes we can look back and see how God has his hand in every detail.
World Vision hosted the Amazing Grace Life team on our trip to Honduras in September. While there, we were able to see how World Vision is helping tens of thousands of people and transforming entire communities with their programs, which also create sustainable progress for the villages. Each morning I did a devotional that I customized according to our itinerary. I started with a song to clear our heads, focus on the day, and to invite the Holy Spirit to cover us in peace. I prayed for the people we were going to meet and that the Lord would go before us, behind us, and beside us. That he would prepare the hearts of the people we would meet. And that we could bring love, hope, and encouragement to the kids. That we could be “Jesus in skin” to those who need it the most.
Our World Vision trip leader, Johnny, told us we would be going to meet Pastor Roman, who had a small church with dirt floors and a tin roof. The church is in a small village, called Amor Viviente, which means “living love.”
As we came in the back door, Roman was speaking to about 60 children. He stopped and welcomed us. Johnny said to me, “Tell Pastor Roman why you are here.”
So I said, “The Lord has put it on my heart to write this book, Amazing Grace, and get it into the hands of as many people as I can because it’s so important that you, your family, these kids, and their families hear about Jesus and that they realize he loves them and cares for them. They need to ask him into their lives to be their personal Lord and Savior.”
At that moment, Roman’s face lit up! Our eyes connected, and I could tell he knew I had Jesus in my heart and that I know the Lord as my Savior. When Roman looked through the book, he said, “This is like a life vest for us. The kids don’t have Bibles, but now they have the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that booklet will always be [like] their Bible.” Roman began to act out one of the stories in the book. I could tell he has such a gift and a passion for the kids.
I asked him, “Pastor Roman, what is your biggest need?”
He said, “Food.” He started to cry. “I take care of 60 children, and the government only gives us a sack of rice and a sack of beans twice a month. I am their Papa. Most kids don’t have a father. The parents leave for work at 4 a.m. and don’t return home until 9 p.m., so there is no relationship between the children and their parents.”
After we visited, I said to Johnny, “Is there a grocery store around here?” I had not seen anything that looked like a grocery store. He said, “If we drive an hour, I know of a big store.”
We left Roman and told him we’d be back, but we didn’t tell him we were going to bring food. We wanted to surprise him. We filled two trucks full of food, and when he saw all the things we bought, he was overcome with joy. We were overwhelmed with tears. It was an “ah-ha” moment for sure. He broke down crying and praying over the food. Thanking God for all he had done, thanking him for his son, and praising God for being a wonderful God.
He also said, “This is a dream for the children — to see that God is good. This is such a blessing.”
Later that night, Johnny told us that Roman had never had a visitor before us. I know that was a divine appointment orchestrated by God. We showed up, we hugged the kids, and we played with them. We handed out beach balls and soccer balls, and we brought new toothbrushes and toothpaste since they didn’t have their own. But most of all, we brought hope, love, and encouragement to Roman. I thanked him several times for being obedient to God’s call. I told him that we need more people like him! I told him, “When you get to heaven someday, all these kids are going to run up to you and say, ‘Thank you, Pastor Roman, for loving us and telling us about Jesus.’” He cried. Then we cried again.
God brings people into our lives in his perfect timing. We had no idea how important our visit would be to Roman. Nobody had come by to pat him on the back and say, “Thank you for all you are doing for our kids.”
God put us there on that day at that time. We prayed for God’s wisdom and direction. We were available to the Lord, and as a result of that, great things happened. We got to be a part of it. The Holy Spirit was moving not only in his church but in the lives of our team. We got to experience God working in our lives and also in Roman’s. We poured out our love and encouragement into Roman. We “refilled” his heart with joy, love, reassurance, and encouragement. He does that every day with those kids.
It was such a blessing to be a blessing.
Where is God working in your life? Who can you encourage today?
You can make a personal connection with a child who needs hope in Honduras and make a difference in their life. Find a child to sponsor.
This post was originally published at AmazingGrace.Life.
The Amazing Grace Life team has one goal: to meet you where you are and bring you one step closer to God. They minister locally and internationally to bring the love of Jesus Christ into neighborhoods. They are based in Dallas, Texas, with the support of more than a dozen team members.