David Dollase is the Director of Safety and Security at Sporting Park and received the 2012 National Sports Safety and Security Professional of the Year Award. He arrived in Guatemala on Saturday and will return to Kansas City on Feb. 17th. He will be providing updates, photos and more throughout the trip for SportingKC.com. Below is his fourth report; click here for Part I, Part II and Part III.
Today we loaded a traditional Guatemalan bus at 0630am. We placed large black boxes loaded with medical supplies and soccer balls on the roof and strapped them down. Leaving town at sunrise, we were in the shade of the mountains for the first hour of the trip. The light on the surrounding cliffs and forested areas hid the barrios and shanties precariously placed one on top of the other, spanning the entire side of a precipice. The long and winding road led us through tiny towns and up into the sun still trying to get high enough to melt the frost.
Once we reached the top, the sun was all around us. It didn't last long as the next hour was spent going down and back into the shade. By the time we were nearing our destination, the sun was high enough to make the ground all around us look as though it was hot and steaming.
We entered San Jose Paoquil around 0900am and set up shop in a municipal building that was also home to the mayor. Once we had the crates unloaded and the area of pharmacy, triage, OB/GYN, pediatrics, general medicine and Opthalmology all set to go, we opened the clinic. It started slow and only a handful of children arrived. I took the slow time to inflate some of the soccer balls in the trunk. I tossed one of the used ones to a boy the age of about 9 or 10 and it wasn't two minutes before there was a friendly being played in the street. I spoke with the mayor and explained that I had items that I wanted to give to a school. She said she knew of a school that could use it most and transportation was arranged for later in the day. I didn't have an idea of the number of children so I only took one trunk.
On the way to deliver the goods, it was obvious that soccer was played everywhere. There were makeshift goals on every plot of land that wasn't planted with a crop. In some areas they were the size of a tennis court and in others much smaller. The largest fields were the ones closest to the schools.
When we arrived there was an immediate interest in our small van. When I opened the trunk and pulled out a sleeve of soccer caps they went crazy. I gave out some items outside and then closed the trunk and went in. The mayor introduced us to the principal and I presented her with used children's cleats, some shirts and a brand new MLS adidas soccer ball. They were incredibly grateful. On the way out I couldn't resist tossing a used ball onto the courtyard to the remaining boys and girls. What ensued was pure fun. They were still playing after we left.
Tomorrow will come early again and the drive to the next town should be shorter. I have sorted the gear and it's ready to go. It has been a fulfilling day of giving back and I look forward to tomorrow's smiles and laughter.