by Sofia Goncalves
Famous for being rowdy and boisterous on the football terraces, Celtic football fans also have big hearts. While their team are campaigning for success in Europe, club supporters are backing a Scottish organisation helping street children from Latin America.
According to Paul Reilly, a Celtic supporter, the club became involved with Casa Alianza after one of the members, Neil Doherty, returned from a trip to Latin America and became aware of the situation of the street children in there. When Mr. Doherty returned to the UK, he suggested the club to start supporting children from Central America.
Paul Reilly says “We started with Casa five years ago. At the moment, we are trying to raise money from the events. We have also supported the street children on the World Cup.” They managed to bring street children from Nicaragua to the World Cup in South Africa, 2010. Other than that, their support “tends to be mainly financial, by publicising it or by writing about them on our newsletter.
“In a longer term, we are looking into having some members to work in Central America.”
Some of the members attended an event organised by Casa Alianza, last saturday. With the race night in the Sacred Heart Church Hall, in Lauriston Street, Casa Alianza raised over 600 pounds to help the street children.
This charity association is trying to get Scottish Charity status. Their work in Scotland has been to run events, raise awareness to the situation of violence and abuse suffered by the street children, try to encourage volunteers to join Casa, get people to take action by writing letters to the Government and get grants from other associations.
Casa Alianza’s work in Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua is also precious. Mr. Gunson, coordinator of Casa Alianza in Scotland, says “part of the program is to keep up with their education, get them into school or, if they are a bit older, to get them into work placements or short courses. It’s a delicate and slow process. We also try to reintegrate them with their families if there has been no abuse.
“we are trying to build their self-esteem, build up their confidence. Volunteers walk in the streets offering first aid. We also have boarding houses but the children have to want to be there.”
Casa Alianza also has music links, such as Suzanne Vega, or the Isle of Wight Festival and other supporters.