Sara Diestro

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Sara Diestro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Unserved by most public and privately organized welfare services, large numbers of economically and emotionally deprived youth in Lima and other Peruvian cities are in desperate need of assistance and guidance. Moved both by the immediate needs of such youth and by the strong likelihood that many of them will turn to drugs, crime and violence if those needs are unattended, Sara Diestro and her associates are developing a comprehensive support program built around their participation in the youth division of a soccer club (Lima Alliance Club) that enjoys particularly widespread allegiance in poor and marginalized communities. In a pilot initiative, in which some twenty boys from ten to sixteen years of age are taking part, the focus is not simply on developing their skills as soccer players but on providing them with carefully tailored support services in the fields of health, nutrition, education and social development. Drawing on the services of volunteer professionals and employees of the government's social assistance program, the program includes initial assessments and continued monitoring of health and nutritional status and a polyclinic that provides needed interventions in those areas. In the field of education, participants agree to attend school on a regular basis and receive additional tutorial support from volunteer teachers and university students. In addition, through a series of workshops and guidance sessions, special emphasis is placed on instilling discipline, honesty and respect for the rights of others, and on building self-esteem.
In implementing the program, Sara is supported by an informal association of soccer fans, doctors, teachers, psychologists and other professionals. Because of its sports focus, the program is also unusually successful in enlisting the support of participants' fathers and other family members.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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