If you travel to Guadalajara, Mexico and happen to see kids playing soccer, you may do a double take. Don’t those jerseys look familiar?
Thanks to efforts coordinated by Devon Davey (second from right), who grew up in Atherton and is now doing Master’s degree field work for the nonprofit organization Codeni in the Mexican city, the soccer uniforms and other gear are being donated by AYSO Region 109, based in Menlo Park.
“We are delighted to support Codeni in their mission to ensure the well-being and development of the youth they work with,” said Michael Molano, Regional Commissioner of AYSO Region 109. “Most children who play in Region 109 are fortunate to have access to world-class soccer gear and facilities, and it is an important life-lesson for these children to share their resources with those who do not have the same opportunities.”
Devon’s interest in social justice issues was first kindled when she was at Menlo-Atherton High School. “With a student body as diverse from race to socio-economic situations as at M-A, it was a great environment to learn about social issues and get involved,” she said.
She got a degree in International Studies with a focus on politics and culture in Latin America at the University of San Francisco. She started her master’s program in 2010 learning the academics and is now putting theories into practice. “I planned and coordinated my seven-month practicum experience based on my interests in human rights, youth, and education, as well as my experience and language abilities that coincide with Latin America,” she said.
Devon discovered Codeni online before she left for Mexico and had several Skype conversations with the organization’s Board President about Codeni’s mission and goals. Now that she’s in Guadalajara, she’s working full time and is fully integrated into the Codeni team, supporting about 120 kids and 60 families.
“I’ve worked on organizational development, developing manuals for the main operational areas (recreation, education, workshops, social work, street outreach, and psychology),” she says. “I also did an operational area evaluation based on successful and sustainable principles of working with children in street situations.”
“The jerseys that AYSO donated allow the kids to feel a part of a team and be officially recognized,” she continues. “They will be used in tournaments and informal recreation spaces the kids participate in. We are constantly looking for donations — financial and material — for our festivals, clothing and gift exchanges, recreational and play activities. Support comes in many forms; everything is welcome.”
Photos courtesy of Devon Davey