If you've donated to GOALS over the past year, chances are you received a thank you note in the mail with photos of beautiful and smiling GOALS participants, including one young man with a grin which doesn't seem to ever stop. How can you not love a smile that huge?
Much as we love to share pictures of GOALS children looking happy and enjoying our programs, the truth is that life in Haiti is hard. It's hard in ways we can't possibly imagine living in the United States, and with few options for health care, small problems, even those which are very manageable, can quickly turn fatal. Life expectancy is just 61 years, which is up from less than 50 years just a generation ago.
GOALS Carrefour Croix alumni player Norkenley Barthelemy passed away unexpectedly this week at the age of 20. The entire Carrefour Croix community is mourning his passing this week, and our programs are on hold in the area as participants in the village aid his family with funeral preparations.
GOALS coaches and staff always called him "Atis", Haitian Creole for "artist", which is both a friendly nickname, and a recognition of his talent. "Atis" leant his artistic talent to help GOALS, creating a few special thank you gifts for GOALS team sponsors.
In the United States, if you haven't seen someone in a while, you might say something like "Long time no see" or "Where have you been?", but in Haiti, a more common greeting is, "Ou bliye mwen?" which means, "Did you forget about me?". It is my hope that this simple blog post will serve as some small commemoration so that no, we will not forget about Norkenley, the artist, and that huge smile of his.
Nou pa bliye w / We won't forget you, Atis