This month, GOALS is celebrating a birthday – it’s been exactly one year since we started working in Destra, a small fishing village in Léogane, Haiti! We kicked off GOALS in 2010 by debuting the area’s first summer camp, first youth programs, and first free, organized sports activities for kids. Now, GOALS has over 500 children in its programs in Haiti, from La Coline in the South to the high mountains of Magandu in the West.
Summer camp at Destra is better than ever, with over 120 children from the area participating each day in soccer training, service projects, ESL classes and first aid seminars. Meanwhile, our neighborhood teams are busy with competitions and community projects. The last few months have shown how far the children, young adults, and staff here have come as they teach newly added sites and coordinators about leadership, the environment, and community development.
This month, GOALS climbed mountains to start work in a remote community called Magandu, located high above the town of Grand Goave. Driving up the steep, rocky roads, you quickly feel isolated from the bustling town below. Though extreme erosion is visible in the rocky soil, farmers make a living on small plots by growing vegetables to feed their families and sell at the weekly market. In order to reach that market, children and adults alike will hike for miles, tugging their horse or donkey behind them under the full midday sun.
In other words, this is no place for just any kind of soccer ball. In June, GOALS was fortunate to receive a shipment of 200 blue, indestructible soccer balls donated by One World Futbol. These sturdy soccer balls not only resist normal wear-and-tear, they can survive virtually anything, from sharp rocks to a sledgehammer. As GOALS volunteer Jovan Julien noted, the balls “have built-in pumps allowing the staff to maintain them without any additional expensive equipment.”
Last summer, one of GOALS’ first posts ever described how quickly a standard soccer ball was worn to a pulp here. Kids will play soccer for hours on end, endlessly diving into pick-up games until a ball is flat, bald, and falling apart at the seams. With our most remote communities, GOALS needs to ensure that team equipment doesn’t disintegrate as soon as we’re gone. Thanks to the One World Futbols, we know that no matter what happens in the sites each month, their soccer balls will still be going strong when we return for the next visit.
Children everywhere in Haiti go crazy for soccer – they’ll play anytime, anywhere. The children who grow up in Haiti’s most rural communities exemplify this. They carve out fields in the sides of mountains, play barefoot over spiky rocks, and will run down steep slopes to chase down errant balls without breaking a sweat.
In Magandu, the joy on the kids’ faces as they pulled on their bright, green uniforms lit them up from within. They stood proudly with the new equipment, eyeing everything reverently for a split second, until they couldn’t wait any longer to start playing. As you read this, odds are that these children are kicking around an indestructible futbol in Magandu with enough passion to rival World Cup champions.
GOALS relies on donations to hire local coordinators, provide food to participants and buy project materials such as rakes and shovels to plant gardens and clean up public areas. We greatly appreciate all support and every donation goes a long way. A hot meal to a GOALS player, for example, costs only 30 cents a plate. If you’ve considered supporting GOALS in the past, please consider making a tax-deductible donation now to help our programs grow.
Thanks to first-time donors this month, GOALS has been able to support sites such as Magandu with equipment and basic materials. We would like to thank Rachel Katz and Matthew Burrell for their contributions last month and Jim Litrownik for starting off August with a generous donation to support our work throughout Haiti.
Meanwhile, Lora and Jesse Griff organized a phenomenal equipment and fundraising drive, which is providing a great deal of support to GOALS kids. In addition, William Dise, Caroline Ellis, Vanessa Alix, and Juliet Shen all donated their time and services to help keep things running smoothly internationally. Here in Haiti, we were sad to see volunteers Jovan Julien and Alex Carroll depart, but are now lucky enough to have Lance Anderson here helping out for the rest of the summer. From everyone at GOALS, thank you for all your support!
We’re headed back to Magandu this week to work on developing the sites’ soccer program, community service projects, and new educational opportunities. We know that when we reach the top of that mountain, we’ll see kids running toward us with huge smiles on their faces and the same sturdy soccer balls at their feet. Their joy is contagious, and we’re excited to see this passion for the game fuel their commitment to their communities and themselves.
Want more GOALS news? Check out The Huffington Post’s coverage this month, or check out the supplementary photo album for this post on our Facebook page. As always, you can get in touch with us by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.