Full Speed Ahead!

GOALS teams mid-play

This month, I spent a busy two weeks in the United States promoting and developing GOALS while spending time in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. Blue, green, and yellow program t-shirts were sent to every corner of the U.S. to GOALS’ supporters. Your purchases of GOALS t-shirts generated over $500 for our after-school program in just one week – thank you!

When I returned to Leogane, I sat down with Emilio, Site Director, and Nadège, Senior Program Manager, to catch up and check on all aspects of the program. They beamed as we reviewed the progress from the 2 weeks that I was absent. The staff had initiated improvements in our program space and built a new playing field. A special committee from our Dream Team had independently conducted a new community survey to evaluate our programs. Meanwhile, the Dream Team had also completed a new community service project to improve a public meeting area using recycled materials.

Nadege passes out the afternoon snack

It is one of GOALS’ biggest successes that our local staff, who are from Destra, excel in their roles to lead the program’s activities independently on a day-to-day basis. Emilio and Nadège help plan the site’s program budget, monitor inventory, develop new activities and projects for the children, and coordinate our local programs. Emilio has overseen the construction of over 205 storm shelters in the area surrounding our program site. Nadege has assisted 50 families in starting their own vegetable gardens in addition to starting a large demonstration garden and compost collection bin.

GOALS’ intensive training for local staff is one of the most unique and most sustainable aspects of our impact in Destra. Our emphasis on youth leadership develops these same skills at an earlier stage for our teenage Dream Team members. This month, the Dream Team started “Professional Days” during their weekly training workshop, in which they invite local leaders from the community to discuss their work and career paths.

The Dream Team also put these principles into action, organizing a special match for the program’s youngest participants. Cassandra, the team’s co-president, even assisted Dr. Oshri, a visiting Israeli physician who volunteered to come run a mobile clinic at GOALS. Furthermore, the Dream Team visited GOALS’ new neighborhood team in a nearby area named Carrefour Croix. At Carrefour Croix, the Dream Team presented before the community about GOALS and worked with the new team’s players to develop their first community service projects.

Chasing the ball during our afternoon program in Destra

How is this much good news possible in just one month? The hard work of Emilio, Nadege, our coaches, the program’s participants, the support of the community – all of this goes ten times farther because of the outstanding support from our donors, volunteers, and interns who are always working to increase GOALS’ impact from the United States.

The GOALS’ community has quadrupled in the last four weeks. Thank you to everyone who has donated, bought a t-shirt, subscribed to the website, and volunteered time and energy to help GOALS grow, improve its programs, and reach out to more kids here in Haiti. There are myriad ways in which our network of supporters has levied our efforts on-the-ground to make a much bigger impact. From everyone at GOALS, thank you to board member Paul Sorensen, John and Cathy Sommers, and the Delaney Bay Fund who have donated in the past month to support our program and sponsor local teams.

I met with Matt Severson, from the School Fund, at Brown University

At Brown, where I spoke on a panel at the Watson Institute for International Studies, I met with all of the on-campus interns and volunteers for the first time ever – and there are ten of them! Thanks to interns living in Washington State, Utah, Georgia, Canada and the Dominican Republic, GOALS is truly benefitting from a global effort to use sport to improve quality of life in Haiti and begin creating long-lasting change.

GOALS is all about leveraging resources and creating synergy through smart collaborations. As a result, we operate quickly and efficiently to use sport to engage youth in community and development work. Our after-school program, with a staff of four, draws about 175-200 children a day from the surrounding area. In addition, our nearby Carrefour Croix team has about 60 more children playing soccer and organizing new community service projects. We will update you soon on this team’s progress and our results from the area’s recent census.

Wrapping up an afternoon practice

So, as Emilio and I like to say at the end of the day, “Wow, we are busy!” GOALS is charging full steam ahead, fueled by the dedication of our Destra team and the efforts of our supporters in the United States. It’s an incredible community to be a part of, and thank you for everything you are doing to make it even better.

Kona Shen
Founder & Director

PS – Ever wonder how and why GOALS was started in the first place? Read my Founder's Story to hear how about the creation of GOALS.

The end to another busy day in Destra