This weekend Team Liberia joined with every other nation participating in the Street Child World Cup to remember all of the children who have died on the streets, particularly those who were killed at Candelária 21 years ago in Brazil.
A memorial service was held in the very spot where eight street children were shot dead by Brazilian police in 1993, to highlight the issue and call for more to be done to protect vulnerable children dependent upon the streets. Candelária is now a place of tribute, with eight red bodies painted on the ground to remind everyone of this tragedy.
Deche, one of the survivors of Candelária, was present to say a few words: “I am really proud to be here and I want to thank everyone for joining me. We are a global community across five continents; today we remember the eight young Brazilians and all of the street children around the world and demand a positive change.”
In a shocking statistic, 24 street children are killed in Brazil every day, something that local organisations are desperately trying to stop by reaching out to the Government for more aid. Rodrego, aged just 16, was meant to be captaining Brazil at the Street Child World Cup this year, but was tragically murdered just four weeks before the tournament. Team Liberia have formed a strong bond with the Brazilian players following a close match between the two sides, when the host nation scored in the last minute to win 1-0 and they all celebrated in front of the painting dedicated to Rodrego.
Two players from the Liberian squad, Zwannah Sonnie and Soko Gurley, joined together with representatives of every other country to share in a minute’s silence, prayers and a scattering of rose petals on the path.
They acted as true ambassadors for their country and for Street Child of Liberia, especially when comforting members of the Brazil side mourning the loss of their leader Rodrego and offering support to other children who have suffered as much as they have.