Oct 31, 2019

“He came to Aruba with one suitcase and a paper with a phone number on it.

Happy Community Initiative is about helping youth together:

“He came to Aruba with one suitcase and a paper with a phone number on it.

ORANJESTAD — Rafael Figuereo cares about his neighborhood and its children. When he noticed the social issues that affected the children living in the same place he lived he started to reach out. Centro Familiar Sabana Basora is the result of a caring family that runs after school programs for children. The way Rafael reached out to these kids, we are asking you to reach out to the Happy Community Initiative in order to assure that Aruba’s children have a safe place to go to when school is out.

Sabana Basora is a neighborhood in the southern part of the island where social issues have been present from the start. The economic situation in Aruba makes it hard for single parents to come by and even for low income families paying the bills and fighting social problems is a daily challenge. We can most probably all agree that this however should never affect our children. Luckily for Sabana Basora the Figuereo family open their arms to the youth with a great after school program.

We are family

The song by Sister Sledge fits perfectly to the Figuereo’s. They do this together: father, mother and the sisters. Daughter Angenette Figuereo is the foundations right hand, her father is the founder. FCCA provided a house in the neighborhood which the family converted into a welcoming place for children after school. They are open to children from all districts and as Angenette says: “We hope to grow in a way that we can be a family center for everyone on the island. Below the bridge there is already a good chunk of foundations that are already working with teens. We want to give a change to kids above the bridge as well.” She explains that Sabana Basora has a history of criminality, social problems and drop-outs. “Gangs erased and it all grew worse. Poverty and addictions were present. My dad offered another way and he connected to them to turn this around. We started just from home and organized pizza nights, lecturing nights about drugs and alcohol, creative workshops and so on. My dad gained their respect and we are proud to say that some of these rough neighborhood kids are now studying successfully in Holland.” Their goal is to show them opportunities and a change of life. It is important to have values in life and be a good citizen, she says. “I am proud of my dad, many thought he is working with broken good and nothing will come out of it. But he showed them wrong. He comes from a poor upbringing himself so he knows how it is. He came to Aruba with one suitcase and a paper with a phone number on it. He started from the bottom and worked his way up.”

Free program

A minimum of 20 children between four and fourteen years old come regularly to the center. They come in from 3PM and participate in a creative workshop or music lessons. There is food and drinks available and after the workshop it is time to play outside on the football field. The Figuereos offer their program completely free which is amazing. “Because of the poverty we understand that it is not possible for parents to pay. We had children here wearing the same shirt every day so how would they be able to pay an after school program?” The center provides everything and although they are being supported for a part by some organizations they are in great need of sponsors. “We really want to proceed but it is a struggle only because of the fact that we are completely free. Nobody here gets paid for their job. My dad has a paid job and does this besides it. I do not work for a salary but for the well-doing. But of course we can’t either keep on paying for all ourselves.” The family’s energy is exceptional, they are focused on creating a happy world for the children in the hope that this rubs off on the parents. During vacations and holidays the center organizes activities for the whole neighborhood. “I was brought up with love and values and that is exactly what we like to give back.”