ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A dance group made of Nicaraguan teens and kids performed at an Englewood church on Sunday as they continued their tour through Colorado cities.
The American non-profit Capital on the Edge takes in street kids and teens exposed to ongoing violence in Nicaragua and provides them with housing, food, clothing and education. Another piece of the program is helping them find a talent and a sense of purpose; that’s where the dance group the Nicavangelists began in 2011.
“Performing for people and educating them about Nicaraguan culture and youth issues and now where Nicaragua is,” said Jed Brien, Capital on the Edge Director. “Nicaragua is being repressed and we need to take some action to set the Nicaraguan people free. Some of our own youth have photos of bullet wounds in their bodies from being attacked on the streets and at the universities.”
These performances are coming during a time when thousands of Central American migrants seeking asylum, including some from Nicaragua, continue to inch closer to the U.S. border. They're still coming to the border, despite threats from President Donald Trump that they will be barred from coming into the country.
“With all of the things that are happening in Nicaragua, I just want to help them with everything I can do,” said Jorge Louis Vallecillo, Nicavangelists member.
Now at 18 years old, Vallecillo looks back at a time when his father left his family and he turned to follow in his older brother’s footsteps by getting involved in gangs on the streets and using and selling drugs. He said he was also followed home by paramilitaries with weapons.
“The only thing that could bring me was the jail or death,” said Vallecillo. "My mom was very scared and she was crying and she wanted me to leave the country."
The Nicavangelists learn and perform break dancing and tricking around the world, a martial arts-like discipline. The performing gives members other goals to work toward and reasons to stay away from violence and avoid the streets.
“It is exciting and its fun,” said Billy Brien, 10-year-old group member and Jed’s adopted son.
Billy said through his experience with Capital on the Edge and being adopted, he’s found faith.
“What god did to my life, now I need to do a favor for him and this is my favor for him."
As the group members look down the road, many of them hope to return home to Nicaragua when it is safe.
“Maybe one or two years, but I have hope,” said Vallecillo.
Until then, they believe they are helping Nicaragua while on the road spreading their message and supporting each other along the way.
"We are very close we are like a family,” said Vallecillo.