Despite the fact that every single one of our coaches, educators and program managers were struck with a nasty new mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya which causes high fevers and painful body aches, it's been a summer of health, here at GOALS in Leogane, Haiti.
What do you do when nearly everyone around you is struck with a painful, incurable illness like chikungunya? GOALS responded in full force (once we could walk again, that is!). We launched a new partnership with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), to transmit critical messages about the causes, symptoms and treatment of this new-to-Haiti disease, as well as other illnesses carried by mosquitoes, such as dengue and malaria. Our partnership continues this summer as all of our kids are enrolled in MSF's intense 2-month health outreach training, where they're learning about hygiene and handwashing, nutrition, and more.
Check out this cute video of some of our younger kids singing a song they learned about mosquitoes:
MSF has been thrilled at the way GOALS is able to mobilize huge numbers of people to receive these vital health messages, even in remote areas. It’s all thanks, of course, to our network of soccer coaches who have become important community leaders!
In June, we held two mobile clinics which treated nearly 400 patients. It was our first community-wide mobile clinic in the village of Terrasonson, and our soccer coaches stepped up to help organize and run the clinic. We’re very proud to see how they’re becoming true community leaders and role models for their teams. Thanks to April at HaitiAustin, who brought a dentist to the village of Destra for the first time ever. He was certainly busy! Along with health, discussing and brainstorming ways to prevent violence against women has been a theme at GOALS this summer.
Together, the kids at both CarrefourCroix and Terrasonson prepared and performed a special skit with the theme of gender-based and domestic partner violence, modeling for the benefit of both girls AND boys that gender-based violence is unacceptable. Such a great learning experience! We’re hoping to take this show on the road soon, to perform for other young people and their communities.
Along with health and preventing violence against women and girls, it's always soccer season, here at GOALS!
In July, we were incredibly lucky to host Coach Eamon from UC Berkeley and Marin Soccer Academy, who spent a week mentoring our coaches both as a group and individually to teach them new skills, drills and coaching techniques. It was such an honor to have someone as skilled as Coach Eamon visiting us! Thanks, Coach!
We also held an extraordinarily successful one-day girls soccer tournament in June, which saw several hundred girls from 8 teams and three cities participate, along with of course GOALS girls. Our CarrefourCroix girls team came in second place, and the coaches were so proud!
Finally, GOALS kids were recently featured in the French sports magazine, L’Equipe! Check it out!
Behind the scenes, we’ve been strengthening the impact of our ongoing programs and crunching the numbers to measure our impact. For example, at one site, 43% of kids who were underweight moved towards a healthy weight (based on the World Health Organization's recommended BMIs) after just six months of eating healthy meals and playing soccer at GOALS! Stay tuned for more on that coming soon.
Overall, 2014 is turning out to be the year that we achieve some of our long held dreams. Our literacy class is transforming lives, our coaches are turning into strong community leaders, and our first group of scholarship students are graduating high school and working on achieving the next dream of going to university.
All of us here in Haiti have been working hard to achieve these dreams, but of course, none of it would be possible without the support of our generous donors at home. On behalf of all of us here in Haiti on Team GOALS, a huge thank you for your support!