Before I had even read Enrique’s Journey, I was impacted by the presence of poverty in Honduras. I spent a few days there in a rural town building a playground in 2007, and my brother travelled to there with a team in the summer of 2010 and toured a school across the street from the landfill in Tegucigalpa–the very one featured in one of the colored photos from Nazario’s book.
As a result of our time spent in Honduras, my brother and I each started projects to raise funds for the school across from the garbage dump, AFE (Amor, Fe, y Esperanza). My friend and I purchased a button maker and got to work making unique buttons to sell, while my brother and his two best friends dreamt of something a little larger–a basketball tournament.
On a Saturday last April, the first annual Slam Dump 3v3 Basketball Tournament took place in the fieldhouse at Middleton High School. My brother, then an eighth grader, and his friends had their work cut out for them as they put together a registration system, planned a bracket and prizes, and organized volunteers for the fourteen-team tournament. Besides raising awareness for the poverty in Honduras, the tournament raised over twelve hundred dollars for AFE, which went towards building classrooms and providing scholarships for teenagers like Enrique to go to college.
As a result of reading Enrique’s Journey and my participation in a Socratic Discussion on the book on October 19th, I have become more aware of poverty’s impact on illegal immigration. The poverty that my brother and I witnessed in Honduras directly influences the people that courageously face whatever fate a journey such as Enrique’s may bring. The discussion two weeks ago make me realize that we must change and try to eradicate the poverty in Honduras and other suffering nations before we can expect to see a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants arriving in the United States. This elimination of poverty begins with education. It begins with schools like AFE that reach out to those most in need of a way to better their lives. It begins with people deciding to make a difference.
The Slam Dump Tournament was started by a single middle schooler and two friends and in its first year raised enough money to give a teenager like Enrique the chance to go to college. What, then, might be possible with the will of a group as large as the University of Wisconsin-Madison community?
The second annual Slam Dump Tournament is planned for March 24th, 2012. If you are interested in entering a team or volunteering, please email Ben Hershberger at email@example.com
Senior at Middleton High School