People often ask the question about sustainability in the social development sector. It is one of the keywords within the sector and an extremely difficult question to answer as well as objective to achieve. What is sustainability? What is truly sustainable?
In the areas that LF has operated around the world, there can be formidable challenges. In Guatemala, earthquakes are not uncommon and we’ve witnessed LF fields become damaged by mudslides. Most recently, our project in Massangana, Cabo de Santo Agostinho (PE, Brazil) was hit by a major flood just three months after the field was inaugurated in April, 2015. A flood of this size had not been seen in the community for several decades.
It’s impossible not to feel sadness when looking at the photos of the incident. Months of collective work taken away by the water in one fell swoop. At the same time, a strong desire for reconstruction immediately took hold within the community; a desire held by those who followed and participated in the project. “What do we do?” became the main question on everyone's mind.
In moments like this a solid and united community can make all the difference and serve as a principal tool for reconstruction to occur. “Some people say that the last time something this strong happened was in the 1970s", commented Joelma dos Anjos, member of the local commission and management committee of the field, both formed during the project.
The same hands that built the walls surrounding the field, now collected debris and went about cleaning it after the flood. The management committee successfully raised money to save the playing surface, resume games on the field, as well as create a viable source of funds for the reconstruction effort.
Recent weeks have seen project partners committing to supplying machinery, materials, and raising funds for the reconstruction. Meetings in the community are being organized so that people can contribute and new volunteer days are being planned. The community is, once again, the protagonists in the realization of their own dreams.
This current mobilization shows us that the network created from a project remains and is both present and active. More than the creation of something, real sustainability resides in the capacity of reconstruction and reorganization when faced with adversity. The inauguration of the Arena Massangana celebrated a beginning. The flood demonstrated the power that a project has and the force that it reveals in people and a whole community.
*translated into English by Andrew Carten.
If you'd like to contribute to the reconstruction of the Arena Massangana, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The love.fútbol family and the community of Massangana thank you.