Maui student Keola Paz Paredes, son of a Bolivian immigrant to the United States, has initiated an outstanding mission to help children in Bolivia who play soccer. Paredes, a senior on the Kamehameha High School soccer team in Pukalani, has been playing soccer since he was a young child. “I first got the idea for my project when I was 11 years old,” Paredes explained. “My family and I brought soccer shoes for three children belonging to the woman who helped in my grandmother’s house in Bolivia. When the kids tried on the shoes they had massive smiles on their face, a joy almost like nothing I had seen before. I got this amazing feeling of pride knowing I had helped to give that to them.”
A few years later, Keola and his family went to Bolivia with about 50 pairs of shoes and a bunch of other miscellaneous equipment and brought it to a barrio neighborhood in the upper reaches of La Paz. “When we got there, the children had their faces pressed up against the gate which surrounded the concrete field they played on. The best part was, they didn’t even know we were bringing them anything, they just thought we were going to play soccer with them,” Paredes exclaimed. “Needless to say, when we started handing out the gear, the children went wild! It was then that I realized how many people I could impact and I wanted to do even more.”
Paredes, realizing what he wanted to do next, recently collected 100 cleats and nine suitcases full of equipment from soccer teams around Maui, including brand new uniforms from the American Youth Soccer Organization. “I am currently working on a short documentary about the current situation in Bolivia and already have a confirmed TV channel to show it on. I’m going to advertise the need for good soccer gear and ask for more donations to keep the project running for years to come. I’d like to leave a lasting impact on the children in Bolivia.” To help Paredes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.