At the age of 16 in Argentina, Pedro Opeka, a gifted athlete, made the decision to not accept an invitation to try out for a premier league soccer team in Buenos Aries but instead to become a Vincentian priest and dedicate his life to helping the poorest people on the planet. He chose to live in Madagascar, and after 15 years in the south of the island was asked to relocate to the capital city, Antananarivo. There he found destitute families living in the city’s vast, smoke-covered landfill fighting for food with wild pigs and dogs.
After a year, Father Pedro convinced 70 of the families to leave the landfill and to establish a small community in which they could build their own homes, schools and medical clinics and work the land for money. Father Pedro grew up as a mason’s son, helping his father build houses, and he was able to teach these families how to make bricks and build their own homes, the first step to rebuilding their dignity.