News  >  Blog

Helping Displaced Families in Colombia: Dina’s Story

Published 11/18/2015 by Global Communities

Helping Displaced Families in Colombia: Dina’s Story
Maryluz and her family arrived in Cartagena after they were forcefully displaced from Uraba Antioqueño in Northern Colombia. At the time, she and her husband had three children: Cristian, Alejandra and Dina. At first, they stayed at a friend’s house, who had arrived earlier under similar circumstances and insisted that they stay with them until they found a place to live. They finally settled in the Villas de Aranjuez neighborhood of Cartagena, a neighborhood well-known for the free housing provided to displaced and vulnerable families by the government of Colombia.
Dina, the family’s youngest child, was born with an deformity in her nose which made breathing difficult for her. As a result, Maryluz constantly worried about her. She always told her husband that when they found a way to generate some income their first priority would to be to pay for the surgery that would fix Dina’s nose and improve her health and quality of life.
Unknown to them at the time, Dina had a fascination with soccer. Every time she would leave the house she would go to the improvised field to watch the other kids practice under the guidance of a retired soccer player who also lived in the area. Her dream was to go onto the field and, like the best of the soccer forwards on the Colombian coast, fill the net with goals.

Maryluz in her small store.
Through the ANDA program Maryluz received business training and used her new skills to open a small store selling a variety of products. In time the income from her small business allowed her to reach her biggest dream–covering the cost of Dina’s operation. After that, Dina dressed in shorts, was able to run on the field without difficulty and became a role model for the Villas de Aranjuez soccer club.
One day the team’s coach arrived at the family store where everyone in the family was helping out. He told Maryluz and her husband that he was surprised by their daughter’s talent. He explained that she is so good that she does not play in the girls division, but with an all-boys team. Maryluz and her husband couldn’t believe it. On the coach’s insistence, they agreed to go down to the field to watch their daughter play.

Dina with some of her teammates.
They were overwhelmed by emotion when they saw Dina play for they had never seen her that happy. They were even more astonished a few months later when they began to get calls from Argentinian soccer agents and American university representatives interested in offering Dina academic and athletic opportunities when she was older.
In the meantime, the little store whose purpose was to improve a family’s quality of life, has become a fundamental supporter for young soccer players. Contributing balls, uniforms and other gear, it is helping many neighborhood kids who dream about changing their lives with a ball, a field and 90 minutes of play. Maryluz and her family feel like these are small actions that generate big changes, and she is proud that her small business is helping her daughter and other local youth fulfill their dreams.