Recycling, composting, gardening and more: How GOALS kids learn to protect their environment

GOALS' environmental initiatives were recently featured in an article on the Green Sports Blog!

Haiti has a long history of environmental devastation. Deforestation, for example, dates back to the 18th century and continues today. GOALS responds by planting trees and community gardens, helping youth to understand the importance of environmental stewardship. Our soccer players know that they can't play soccer on a field covered with trash, and they spend time keeping the field clean each week and gardening together as a team to help grow food for after-practice snacks! Here's a sneak peak at the article via Green Sports Blog:

"The fields also need to be cleaned of trash, including bottles and food scraps—which the kids handle, under the direction of the coaches and with the help of a local organization that recycles bottles...Last year, GOALS kids collected 3,700+ plastic bottles to be recycled. And, compost piles dot the landscape as well, so coaches and kids learn what waste goes where."

Read the entire article on Green Sports Blog, and browse through the image gallery below to see how GOALS players receive an environmental education while pitching into protect and improve their local environment, starting right on the soccer field.


Meet John Daly!

John Daly

This summer, GOALS announced the creation of a special scholarship to honor volunteer and Dream Team school scholarship program founder Jovan Julien, and all the work he has done to ensure that GOALS' most promising young leaders have the opportunity to attend school, whether or not their families can afford the tuition costs.

The GOALS Dream Team school scholarship program has seen dozens of teens return to school, and two students have become the first in their families to graduate high school, a huge accomplishment in Haiti, where less than 20% will ever even attend high school at all. Cassandra was the first in her entire village to graduate high school, and Olsen was honored for receiving the second-highest grades in his entire class. We couldn't be prouder - and more grateful to Jovan's vision and ongoing support!

The Jovan Julien Honorary Scholarship was created to support one student who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities and a dedication to creating a better future not only for themselves, but for their community as well. And that is exactly why, with Jovan's help, GOALS selected John Daly Pierre to receive this special scholarship for the 2015 - 2016 academic year.

John Daly stands out amongst hundreds of GOALS participants for going above and beyond the minimum requirements. For example, he has logged more volunteer hours than required to maintain his GOALS soccer team eligibility, joining in on extra community service projects, such as leading activities for little kids in his neighborhood and performing in skits to teach health lessons to his community.

Check out this video of John Daly, Sterlin and Wisly leading GOALS kids in an interactive "animasyon" (call-and-response) activity (that's John Daly in the dark blue shirt):

John Daly has attended school in the past, but he's also fallen behind when his family has been unable to pay tuition. With eight children to care for, his family has understandably struggled. But he has big dreams for the future:

"School is important for me because you can’t advance or succeed without school," he says. "School makes a big difference in my life; it exposes me to new things and ideas... I would like to be a policeman (or a doctor) to help my country, to help myself and my family. I would also like to fix the road to my village so that life in my community can improve, because if there is no road, there won’t be development of the community."

John Daly would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Jovan Julien Scholarship Fund to send him back to school, and, if I may add on his behalf, everyone who has made a donation to the GOALS scholarship fund this year! See below for a note from John Daly:

It reads:
"Today is a beautiful day to write the staff GOALS even I haven't many words to say. But I'm happy the program Dream Team, it gives me possibility to go to school without money, I'm very happy for that. I thank you very much 'cause you sending me to school. I got a dream, a dream when I finish school, I want to be a doctor and my favorite subject in my school are math and English. Thank you very much for all things."

John Daly at school

Please click here to make a donation to the Jovan Julien Honorary Scholarship fund in support of Jovan and John Daly, or, click here to make a general donation to the Dream Team school scholarship program.

GOALS is determined to see John Daly and all of our students, achieve their dreams. On behalf of John Daly and all of our GOALS Dream Team students, thank you for believing in a better future for Haiti and for investing in our students to make it happen and for being a part of their success.

As we say in Haiti, "Mesi mil fwa!" or, thank you one thousand times!

Meet the GOALS 2015 - 2016 Dream Team!

Be sure to find out what's happening with the GOALS "Boul'anjri" bakery, literacy projects, soccer teams, and all of GOALS' projects! Follow GOALS on Twitter and Like us on Facebook to keep in touch and share with your friends about what's happening on the soccer fields of Haiti every single day.


Creating safe, dignified spaces for learning

In 2010, GOALS began with some very big dreams.

We dreamed that children growing up in poverty in Haiti would have shoes, food, clean water and reason to hope for a better future. We dreamed that with access to health information and increased confidence, girls would finish school without getting pregnant. We dreamed that a generation of Haitian youth would dream bigger and achieve more through the power of football.

Over the past five years, communities, soccer coaches and youth leaders in Haiti have come together  - with the support of soccer fans and donors from around the world - to make these dreams happen. GOALS has nearly eliminated teen pregnancies amongst our youth; our first students have graduated high school; we've seen children who grew up kicking tin cans on the beach recruited to play semi-professional soccer.

And GOALS responded by dreaming even bigger.

Going beyond soccer, we launched our community bakery program to provide jobs, micro-enterprise opportunities and a more sustainable food source for GOALS kids, and our adult and youth literacy program is providing second chances for children and adults.

Local communities have always eagerly joined GOALS as a partner, sharing what resources they have to make soccer, service, and education programs happen for their children. Landowners lend space for a soccer field, families donate their time to projects and neighbors bring a chair or a table to host visiting teachers. One way or another, GOALS programs have always succeeded, even with little more than a tarp for shade.

Erika before and after

But tarps shred over time, and temporary structures are vulnerable to wind and rain. Coaches, parents, and kids have always asked GOALS to establish a safe and permanent place for community activities. A place where kids can study and learn. A place to shelter down during hurricanes and flash flooding. A place where doctors can visit patients and a place where teen girls can learn about their health.

After months of planning, and nearly two years of fundraising, in partnership with the families of village of Destra who donated a plot of land, and in partnership with Building Goodness Foundation GOALS has begun construction on a new community education center to provide a safe, permanent space to house our programs.


Children and adults will learn to read within the new center's walls. It will house political debates and elections and accommodate visiting medical staff at mobile clinics. In a community where most families survive on less than $2 a day, the GOALS center will bring new jobs, commerce and new opportunities to the area.

Thank you to everyone who donated to make this dream a reality, and stay tuned to follow the construction progress!


GOALS' Annual Report 2014 - 2015

Sifting through our favorite photos and reviewing GOALS' accomplishments and impact to produce our Annual Report each year is always uplifting and inspiring. And, with the help of our volunteers, our reports are both beautiful to read and equally effective at sharing the GOALS story of how our soccer programs develop local leadership and transform rural Haitian communities.

With two new programs launched this year (the the 'Boul'anjri' Community Bakery to feed our hungry soccer players, and literacy classes for GOALS' parents), we had to leave out a few of our other favorite accomplishments (such as recycling almost 4000 plastic bottles!).

GOALS' 2014 - 2015 Annual Report is below and you can view a larger PDF version here.
Leave a comment or send us a tweet @goalshaiti to let us know what you think! 

What do you think?
A huge thank you to our immensely talented volunteer designer Sally Limb in San Francisco! If you're interested in learning more about GOALS' revenue and expenses, our complete financial statement can be viewed here.


From Ohio to Haiti: Service learning with GOALS and Hastings Middle School

At GOALS, there's many reasons why we use soccer as a tool to spark long-term change in rural Haiti. Besides providing access to areas which lack both infrastructure and community programs, sport is effective at increasing gender equality and developing leadership, teaches life skills and critical health lessons right on the soccer field, and provides hope and opportunities for children who need it most.

Another reason why we love soccer? As a universal language, it provides a great way for children around the world to get involved and make a difference!

Students at Hastings Middle School, in Columbus, Ohio, for example, recently conducted a service learning project about Haiti with their French teacher, Miss Kelly. After researching the language, culture and history of Haiti, students chose to raise donations of soccer balls to send to GOALS.

Clockwise, from top left: Students show off the One World Futbols they've raised; Presenting their Power of Play project to the entire school; Testing out the One World Futbols at a fundraising match; More French students from Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington, Columbus, OH.

I'll let one fourteen year old student tell you all about their experience:
A Difference, by a Hastings Middle School student from Columbus, Ohio

The Haiti Service Learning Project definitely was something that changed my view of the world. When I first heard that we would be doing something to help Haiti, I thought to myself, that’s likely to ever happen, like they need our help.

But then we started the research.

My group was assigned to make a video clip about the conditions in Haiti. At first glance, I assumed that we’d be able to blow our project off and just come away with some sort of scrap material. I was convinced that Haiti needed no help whatsoever...But as I scrolled through the pictures, I began to see that that wasn’t true at all. It wasn’t always safe there, the streets were filled with junk, there was nowhere that even grass could grow because the ground was a mass of rubble and houses stood only partially built.

I was stunned. I felt like I was almost always right...But this time, I’d been horribly mistaken. Haiti really did need help.

While gathering information on Haiti’s conditions, I also learned about One World Futbol, and what they were doing. Children in Haiti were being given balls to play soccer with, because soccer was one of their ways of staying happy and fit even in a home that was in such poor condition. In pictures showing children playing soccer before they were given the indestructible balls by One World Futbol, I saw deflated soccer balls, balls made from trash, and balls that had been stuffed full of plant material and tied back together with a string. Balls that never lasted more than one game.

But One World Futbol has been changing that, one ball at a time. They’ve been donating soccer balls to help the children of Haiti keep on playing soccer with balls that can’t be broken or deflated, balls that will last for hundreds of soccer games instead of just one.

Seeing what One World Futbol and GOALS Haiti were doing made me want to do something to help out. If an organization such as this one was making such a huge impact on people in need, then I wanted to do what I could to help. This was a way in which I could help, a way in which I could make a difference.

I definitely feel like I did make a difference in this project. I learned so much, and now I can pass that knowledge on to other people. Also, working on the project is helping my class be able to spread awareness and raise money to donate to One World Futbol and GOALS Haiti. Even if we just raise enough to donate one ball - one ball - I know that we will make a huge difference.

And I’m proud of that. I gained a lot of empathy and knowledge from this project, and I hope that everyone else did, too. I know that everything we did for this project will stick with me forever. And I’m happy that it will. I know that I’m helping to make a difference in the world, and that feeling is like no other.

A huge thank you to the student who wrote this, to all the students who participated in the project and their friends and families who supported them, and especially to Miss Kelly, who is clearly an incredible teacher! Here's what she had to say about the project:

Is play important? Why?
8th grade French students at Hastings Middle School have been asking themselves and others these questions while working on a service learning project to raise awareness about the power of play.

In discovering more about the Francophone country of Haiti and about the difficulties that impede play opportunities in poverty-stricken countries like Haiti, we were able to get a glimpse into what life might really be like in a world where play opportunities are limited.
What we realized made us want to help!

The Hastings Middle School French students raised 44 soccer balls through One World Play Project to donate to GOALS, and enough money to pay the shipping costs!

If you're a teacher looking for a creative service learning project, or you need a project for your Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, senior service project or any other community service requirements, you can learn more about how to collect new or gently used to donate to GOALS kids in Haiti here, or send us an email to get in touch!

Curious how the students' video project about Haiti turned out? Here it is!


Announcing the Jovan Julien Honorary Scholarship

The Jovan Julien Honorary Scholarship will be awarded to a student demonstrating excellent leadership in honor of Dream Team founder and GOALS volunteer Jovan Julien.

It's been 4 years since Brown University alum and GOALS volunteer Jovan Julien established the GOALS Dream Team Scholarship Program, giving teens in Haiti the boost they need to graduate high school.

In recognition of the impact he's had, GOALS is establishing the Jovan Julien Honorary Scholarship to be awarded (with Jovan's help!) to a Haitian student showing incredible leadership skills but needing help paying school fees to attend high school. We're reviewing applications for this special scholarship throughout the next few weeks, and we can't wait to announce and introduce the winner.


A thank you letter from Kervens

Meet Kervens. Kervens is from Darbonne, a peri-urban area which was heavily affected by the earthquake of 2010 and has struggled to recover. Kervens attends school thanks to a GOALS Dream Team scholarship and is on track to become the first person in his family to graduate high school.

He recently wrote a letter (with absolutely beautiful penmanship!) to thank GOALS for sponsoring his education through the GOALS Dream Team School Scholarship Program, and to explain why it's so important to him. It reads:

From: Kervens Montinant
Objective: Gratitude

I really don't know what I would do if GOALS didn't take it upon themselves to pay for school for me, because my parents have always had trouble paying.

A scholarship is important for me because it allows me to concentrate on my studies and not worry.

When I finish school, I'd love to be able to attend university. My dream is for me to become a successful agronomist and with the scholarship with GOALS helps me with, I am confident I will achieve this dream. I need for GOALS to pay my school because my parents don't have the money to pay for all of us three kids to attend school.

My favorite subjects are biology and social sciences.

I give special thanks to GOALS for helping me not only to play sports, but also for paying my school tuition. I would have so much difficulty without this scholarship.

Please consider making a donation to the GOALS scholarship fund to help Kervens and other students attend school and achieve their dreams. Kervens deserves the opportunity to receive an education and reach his full potential, and the rest of us deserve the opportunity to make the world a better place.


The best and the brightest students in Leogane

Meet the GOALS Dream Team and help us send them to school again in 2015 - 2016!

What is the GOALS Dream Team?
The GOALS Dream Team school scholarship program seeks to break the cycle of poverty by providing school merit and need-based school tuition scholarships to students with strong grades, early leadership skills, and a demonstrated commitment to local development.

GOALS is committed to ensuring that each of our scholarship students succeed in all areas of their life, and are committed to seeing each one graduate from high school to create a better future for themselves and their communities.

Who is GOALS helping?
This fall, 29 students will return to school with a GOALS scholarship.

  • Sondy pulls all-nighters during exam times, even though he studies by candlelight at night.
  • Wisly worked odd jobs during the summer to put himself through primary school since his mother passed away.
  • Venise believes having an education will make her a better mother for the child she had at 14.
  • Junia dreams of becoming a nurse, having struggled with her own health.

Their stories of triumph over adversity are both heartbreaking and inspiring. Of these 29 students, none live in permanent housing: All of them live in tarp, tin, or wooden structures. None of the students have electricity in their villages or running water in their homes. Nine of them have lost at least one parent, only eight have parents who ever attended school and every single one of them will be the first in their family to graduate from high school.

Why do students need scholarships?
In Haiti, school can be prohibitively expensive at any age. The country’s literacy rate is 53% and secondary school participation is just 19%.  Many rural areas lack schools, and poor communities can't afford the tuition and the transportation costs to commute. In the village of Destra, where GOALS works, there are no primary schools and no secondary schools. The nearest paved road is nearly two miles away.

While primary school fees are more affordable, around $60 a year, secondary school fees are costly - around $350, and transport costs, books, school uniforms and exam fees add to the burden. Many parents tell GOALS they are forced to choose between feeding their children or sending them to school. Children from larger families often take turns going to school, with one child attending one year and another child the next.

How can I help?
Each one of these extraordinary students needs help paying school fees, books and uniform costs for the 2015 - 2016 school year.

You can sponsor an individual student or make a general donation to the GOALS Dream Team School Scholarship program.


Literacy update!

Over the past few weeks, we've been getting ready for our second round of literacy classes, meeting with parents and soccer coaches and enrolling children who need help learning to read and write. Each child enrolled has been out of school for at least one year and most haven't attended beyond 3rd grade. In some poorer areas where GOALS works, nearly all the adults are themselves very low-literate, so increasing the number of literate children will have a significant long-term impact. 


Along with enrolling new students, we've been following up with our previous group of learners the past few weeks, to find out more about the impact of GOALS' literacy program.

The Joseph family, for example, with 7 children, is one of the poorest in the village of Destra, where GOALS has been offering sport, health and education programs since 2010. Elancia Joseph is 10 years old, but small enough to easily pass for 7. She and her sister Jessa, 13, both enrolled in and excelled in GOALS’ literacy program.

Recently, Elancia's father told us he was surprised to see Elancia take some rocks and use them to show her little brothers and sisters how to count on the dirt floor of their home. “I learned that if you can’t count very well, that you can use rocks to help you. Before, I couldn’t count at all,” Elancia said.

Her soccer coach says that there’s been a big change in children such as Elancia. “Before, they were illiterate, but now, they’re teaching the alphabet to other kids and telling them about all the activities and that they should enroll too!”


But perhaps the most unexpected outcome of Elancia’s participation was the shift in her parents’ attitude. After a lifetime of poverty, and having never had the opportunity themselves, some parents, themselves illiterate, don’t believe that their children have the capacity to learn, and therefore don’t want to make the huge sacrifices and investment needed to afford tuition fees and send them to school. However, Francique Joseph, Elancia’s father told GOALS, “When she came back from literacy class, I saw that she could read and was doing her homework, I could see the importance of school.”

We knew that our plan to measure the impact of our literacy classes couldn't capture the entire generational impact it would have: Children born to literate mothers, for example, have higher survival rates, and not surprisingly, literate adults earn more than those who cannot read and write. But the tests we did take showed that students were learning a significant amount - and quickly.

Ten year old Frisno's first test and final test, side by side. In the first test, on the left, he simply rewrote the questions.

Our students' average test score was 5.4 before class, placing them in the “pre-literate” category, which means that they may be able to recognize and form some letters, or perhaps write their name. For example, several children wrote a string of letters, such as “hlaorhs”, each of which were correctly formed, but together did not form an actual word. In the final test, students scored an average of 16 points, placing them in the semi-literate category as a group, but individually, half of the students scored 20 or above, placing them in the fully literate category.

But we didn't predict the impact GOALS literacy program would have on parents like Francique Joseph. Like Elancia and Jessa's father, many parents began to believe in the capacity of their children to learn after seeing what they were capable of doing. After seeing their children excel in GOALS' class, nearly all of the families enrolled their children, including Jessa and Elancia in school the next year.

It's not easy, and Elancia still misses school some days when the road is muddy and she is stuck in her little village, and she worries that she won't be able to go at all next year.

But for now, Elancia says she is doing "just fine".


In memory of Norkenley Barthelemy

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.

Check out this t-shirt Norkenley created for himself!

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


GOALS is growing!

John Bunyan, author of the influential spiritual text, Pilgrim's Progress, once said, "You have not lived until you do something for someone who can never repay you." It's an inspiring thought, and one which, like Bunyan's famous book about one man's spiritual journey, challenges us to think about what is truly important in life on a day to day basis.

But what if you are the one who has been the recipient of more than you can ever repay? How do you express gratitude when "thank you" is completely inadequate? GOALS is infinitely indebted in this way to someone - someone who has given us more than we can ever repay, in the form of support, leadership, inspiration and, perhaps most importantly, a visionary belief that GOALS had the power to change thousands of lives in Haiti through sport, all the way back in 2010 when we were still making plans and testing the waters.

While you may be familiar with the GOALS' story and how founder Kona Shen and Executive Director Jolinda Hackett created and shaped our award-winning sport, health and educational programs, you're less likely to be familiar with the name Paul Sorensen, who was working behind the scenes every step of the way telling us it was possible and helping us make it happen.

After serving as GOALS' President of the Board of Directors for nearly five years, Paul has stepped aside to allow fresh leadership and new growth, and while we're sad to see him go, we're thrilled to welcome two new board members to the team:

  • Toby Simon has been integral in shaping GOALS' sexual health curriculum and leading our coaches in seminars to develop personal leadership and address gender-based violence in Haitian communities.
  • Scott Jackson is a Peace Corps alumni and soccer player who works with Haitian American immigrant students in Brooklyn and is already contributing to our organizational growth.

A simple "thank you" could never be enough to express our gratitude for what Paul has done for GOALS' children, families and staff. We know that we couldn't possibly say "thank you" enough times, but, well, we still wanted to try:


From the wheat field to the soccer field

It's been hard to keep this exciting news a secret for so long, so I'm very glad to finally share! GOALS works hard to develop our local staff into strong leaders, and, keeping bellies full is an important part our work. After all, kids can't play or learn when they're hungry. That being said, I'll let our program coordinator, Jean Kendy, speak for himself, and tell you the exciting news of what he's been working on:

Openinng soon...

"Bossan is a poor and vulnerable area close to the beach where most of the people live from fishing and agriculture. There is a lack of money and resources and it is hard to take care of a family when sometimes you don’t catch enough fish to sell. GOALS has been working at Bossan since after the 2010 earthquake. Its programs are really appreciated there since football is a Haitian passion.

Food security is one of their most important needs. After the earthquake and during hurricanes, many people could not get to the city because the roads were flooded, and there was no food for the kids to eat. After one hurricane in 2012, GOALS helped the UN bring people food to eat but if there was a bakery, people would be able to solve this problem on their own.

A bakery will be helpful for both this community and GOALS. As families don’t have enough money, it is a chance for GOALS to hire some parents to work in the bakery, and, people won’t spend as much money to buy bread in the city anymore, since it will be prepared closer in their village and be sold at a better price. Also, we can support the economy by buying flour made from wheat grown in Haiti.

The project will be dedicated to the benefit of the whole community (kids, youths and adults) and should improve the economic situation of Bossan. The money people spend on a taxi to get to the city to buy bread will be SAVED since the bread will be baked directly at Bossan and the people will be able to eat more food and spend less money.

Finally, the bakery will be a place to get more professional experience for our older kids to learn the bakery business. GOALS will help develop such talents for kids who are interested in bakery profession.

We decided to call the GOALS bakery the "BOUL’ANJRI" with an apostrophe because BOUL in Haitian Creole means “ball or soccer ball” and BOULANJRI is the word for bakery. We have a soccer bakery, so it is a BOUL'ANJRI!"

Boulanjriak Timoun

Jean Kendy has already been helping GOALS teenagers paint the new bakery, and is training up parents how to make the bread. We can't wait to get cooking! With no electricity in the village, the work of mixing the dough will be done by hand, and the ovens will be fired up using propane. It won't be easy, but we're confident that thanks to Jean Kendy's planning and leadership, the GOALS Boul'anjri will be successful, providing jobs, food security, skills training, and locally-produced food for our programs.

At GOALS, our mission is to make daily life easier, while helping to shape a better future. This what we work for every day: Healthy, nourished children who gain confidence on the soccer field and have the opportunity to grow up and make their communities a better place. And they couldn't ask for a better role model than Jean Kendy.

Like most of our kids, Jean Kendy's life has been wrought with extreme personal tragedy which, in his case, has only led to extreme personal triumph. Here's a bit of his story:

"I’m always happy when I’m talking about my life story. I grew up with my grandmother without having mother and father: both passed away. So I had an objective to reach: I wanted to go to school so I could help my country in the future. I wanted to help the youth in my community to make them able to be their own actors of the development of their country. Now I can say my dream came true.

After the earthquake that destroyed Haiti and especially Leogane, my native town, I started to help many people: I worked as a volunteer with several American organizations to help to remove rubble in houses and schools that were broken down during the disaster, to distribute hygiene kits and school supplies, build biosand water filters and rebuild schools. With the experience that I had with foreign people, I had the opportunity to improve my English. In 2011, I started to work with GOALS which gave me the biggest work experience I have."

See why we're so proud? Jean Kendy is truly an inspiration to all of the young people in Leogane, and we're happy to have him in charge of the GOALS Boul'anjri! A huge thank you to streetfootballworld and the Sony Football for Social Change initiative for selecting Jean Kendy to lead this project!


The Girls of Terrasonson

Every single day at GOALS, hundreds of kids arrive at the field in their communities to play soccer, our Dream Team scholarship students attend classes and everyone is offered a hot meal after practice. We know how important it is for kids to grow up in safe environments with nourished and healthy bodies and the opportunity to believe in themselves and a better future.

But what, exactly, does that look like, and how is it accomplished? We've seen individual lives completely transformed by GOALS, but what impact does GOALS have in the communities where we work?

GOALS is designed to create broad, long-term changes on the health of individuals and entire communities. We invest in developing our Haitian soccer coaches into models of local leadership and believe in empowering Haitians to develop their own communities, which is why all of our coaches are from the villages where they work.

Thanks to an investment from Football for Hope via streetfootballworld, GOALS was able to spend some time collecting and analyzing data to better measure the impact our programs have on individuals and families through football. Measuring the impact of sport-for-development programs isn't always easy, but it's vital to understanding how we can get better.

Using the the enthusiastic teenage girls of Terrasonson as our sample group, here's what we found:

When the need in Haiti is so great, making a significant impact can be simple. For example, per our baseline data, all but one of the 30 young women on the Terrasonson girls team suffers from chronic food insecurity, defined by how often they are able to eat and how often they feel hungry. By coming to GOALS programs where they receive a hot meal, girls who were previously eating only once per day are now regularly eating twice a day. Based on our height and weight measurements, one-third of the girls who were underweight at their first weigh-in moved closer towards a healthy weight at their second.

Before GOALS started working in Terrasonson, we gave the teen girls a quiz as part of our assessment and discovered that about half of the girls felt they knew enough about sexual health (puberty issues, pregnancy and STD prevention). When we asked again at the end of the year, nearly all of them (92%) reported feeling knowledgeable about sexual health issues, 80% reported knowing how to use a condom and all of them knew why to use a condom.

Knowledge doesn't always translate into action (how often do you floss, for example, even though you know you should?), but we're pretty happy to report that none of the GOALS participants in Terrasonson became pregnant this year. According to UNICEF statistics specific to Haiti, an average of 1.98 pregnancies per 30 adolescents can be expected annually, and working with boys, girls and community leaders to overcome teen pregnancies has been an ongoing challenge for GOALS.

Our data showed a significant increase in awareness of gender-based violence issues. Our health outreach in partnership with Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres doubled the number of youth who knew about care options in their communities for victims of gender-based violence.

GOALS had a great impact in increasing knowledge related to food hygiene and hand washing, but we weren't able to show that this translated into significant behavioral changes. In other words, GOALS is teaching kids what to do, but they don't always actually do it. This is something we will be working to get better at. GOALS kids also learned plenty about cholera and mosquito-borne illnesses, improving their scores on a quiz after attending our health outreach program.

Our data also seems to show that GOALS' programs encourages kids to visit the doctor when they're sick. Both by encouraging access through field trips and by providing free basic care through our partner medical clinic, we work hard to reduce the economic and social barriers to accessing health services.

One of the most exciting changes we witnessed this year at Terrasonson was the interest and ability of younger girls to approach the soccer field and join in. Previously, only younger boys came to the field for unstructured play, while girls would often stand around and watch. This increasing presence of young girls is due both to the role our teen girls have as visible role models and also to changing community attitudes about girls in sports and public places.

For example, about a year ago, a religious leader in Terrasonsons was telling families that their children shouldn't play soccer as it was prohibited by their religion. GOALS staff met with him and talked about the GOALS program and the incredible benefits and opportunities that our holistic program offers and thankfully, he quickly changed his mind!

As a Beyond Sport award winner, streetfootballworld member and Football for Hope-supported organization, we're thrilled to now have enough data to show exactly how our sports-for-development programs are changing lives in Haiti every single day. But of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our friends back home who also believe in the power of sport to change lives. So far this year, we've received donations from Dallas, Boston, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Colorado.


The Field of Dreams

GOALS has had a busy start to 2015! So busy, in fact, that we haven't updated the blog in awhile, but we're still posting photos and tidbits almost daily on Facebook, so be sure to Like our Facebook page to stay up to date.

For the third year in a row, GOALS kicked off 2015 with a two-week intensive staff training with our partner Coaches Across Continents (CAC) and their award-winning sports for social impact coach leadership curriculum. Each year, the visiting CAC staff tells us how impressed they are by the passion our coaches bring to the field with them every single day.

Life in Haiti is never easy. There's no running water, flushing toilets or electricity in any of the areas where GOALS works, but our coaches are dedicated to making life a little bit better for the young people in their communities. And it shows. CAC Coach Trainer Marissa, from Harvard women's soccer, started calling our program site "the field of dreams" because she saw just how much our coaches dream of a better future. As she wrote on her blog:

"The dream, I realized, was something that the GOALS coaches brought with them to the pitch each morning. The coaches wanted to play. They wanted to learn, and work together to solve problems."

Read more about Marissa's visit to GOALS on the Coaches Across Continents blog here.

Visiting CAC Coach Nora, who has played soccer all over the world, was inspired to see how our coaches are the breaking the mold when it comes to gender expectations. Greater equality on the pitch leads to greater equality in society, and GOALS coaches are making it happen every single day. Coach Dina, for example, had an older brother who took her under his wing and allowed her to come to the field to play soccer with him - the only girl on the field - and now, she's coaching both boys teams and girls teams with GOALS.

Check out Nora's blog about how GOALS coaches are using football to create new opportunities for young women in Haiti here.

GOALS has always known that our coaches, young Haitians themselves, are incredible role models for the next generation. And clearly, at least according to visiting coaches Marissa and Nora, it shows!


What is GOALS all about?

Our mission at GOALS is to use soccer as a platform to create real, lasting and generational change in communities in Haiti while still improving lives on a day-to-day basis. No matter which political party holds power in the country, no matter what natural disaster strikes, children will always need safe spaces to play, nourishing food to eat, and the opportunity to attend school and dream of their futures.

But what does this look like on a daily basis? Check out this video below to learn more about GOALS and what we're doing in Haiti every single day:


The BEST Soccer and Smiles in 2014

On behalf of all our kids, their families, our staff and communities, GOALS would like to wish all of our friends and supporters a very happy new year. It's only thanks to your donations of funds and soccer equipment, Facebook likes and shares, tweets and words of encouragement that we are able to improve the lives of hundreds of children in Haiti throughout the year. On their behalf, thank you.

As a special thank you, check out this uplifting video of the absolute best soccer and smiles that you helped create in 2014:

Again, a huge thank you for your support in 2014 and wishing you a wonderful new year!


Everyone at Team GOALS!


A GOALS Holiday Dream: 12 Days, 29 Students

This holiday season, our friends over at GiveGab have given GOALS a very special opportunity to raise $4000 in 12 days for our Dream Team School Scholarship fund. But let me back up just a minute.

In September, when it was time to send our students to school, we didn't quite have all of the funds in place to pay for tuition, uniforms, and book fees. But nonetheless, we committed to sending 29 students to school and paid the first of three tuition installments. We decided to make a leap of faith that we could, somehow or other, find enough funds when the next tuition installment became due in January. Now, we have 12 days to complete our commitment to these students.

12 days, 29 students. Help us make it happen.

Each one of our Dream Team scholarship students overcome so many struggles on a daily basis. Lidia's family lost their home and their small business in the earthquake and was never able to recover. Chronic malnourishment as a child has left Junia anemic and frequently ill. Bettina rides her bike to school even when the path is so muddy she's the only on on it, determined not to miss a day of class.

Despite these challenges, they each have big dreams for their futures and their country. Steevenson wants to be an engineer. Mirlene wants to run her own business.

They believe in their dreams, and we are committed to helping them achieve them. One way or another. Help us make it happen with a donation to our GiveGab Dream Team School Scholarship campaign, and give a child in Haiti a chance to achieve their dreams. 12 days left, 29 students. Can we do it?

Thank you, in advance, for believing in our children. They deserve it.



GOALS 2013-2014 Annual Report now available!

GOALS 2013-2014 Annual Report is here! Thanks to the work of two amazing volunteers, Diana and Daniel, it couldn't possibly be more beautiful, and thanks to the hard work by our team on the ground in Haiti, it was an incredible year. Here's a sample of just how incredible it was:

But don't take my word for it. Check out the video overview of our annual report below, or, click here to download the report.


Meet Sarah!

Meet Sarah. Sarah, from France, joined GOALS as an intern in 2013, and was hired as our Program Manager in 2014. She has been doing an incredible job managing our literacy program!

"My first year at GOALS was a balance between office work and field work. I had busy weeks organizing field activities such as tournaments, mobile clinics, and deworming events, and also more quiet times planning in the office.

What I like the most about GOALS is using football as a tool for education. Progress and development come hand in hand with education - and GOALS players know it. I am happy to see the kids learning and sharing with the rest of their community, having fun playing soccer and becoming better for it.

This year, I had the chance to be a part of crowded mobile clinics, field trips and community service with our Dream Team students, I followed environment and health trainings along with our coaches, and so much more. I am particularly proud of the accomplishments of the literacy class students. They came to class with nothing and today are able to read and write just like their peers.

Sarah talks about our literacy class with a group of visitors.
Sarah's background in community health outreach and experience with monitoring and evaluation have helped GOALS grow even stronger in 2014.

GOALS gives kids a chance to explore their passion for football, while developing into a strong, united and educated youth. The work is challenging sometimes, but it’s great to see and be a part of so many accomplishments!"

Congratulations on your one year with GOALS, Sarah! Mesi anpil! Merci beaucoup!


8 days till school starts!

School starts in Haiti next Monday, and it's an exciting time! Tailors are busy sewing school uniforms, a few lucky kids are walking around with shiny new backpacks and the local markets are full of pencils and notebooks. But if you're a parent who can't afford tuition fees, this can be the worst time of year, and if you're a child who won't be able to go to school, it's a time of worry, frustration and despair.

GOALS provides tuition support to 28 young men and women who have demonstrated that they are the best of the best among students in Leogane, Haiti. These children have worked hard to stay in school, despite all the hurdles of growing up in poverty. They bike or walk across muddy roads for an hour or more; they sit in hot, sweaty and cramped school buildings in the heat of the day, and sometimes, their families go without eating in order to afford tuition costs.

They are well deserving of our help, and I hope you'll agree that they're also deserving of yours.

Two very generous donors have offered a matching grant to help us make a last-ditch effort to keep our commitment of helping these 28 boys and girls graduated high school. Why a matching grant? These two supporters are ready and willing to donate up to $2500, but they want to inspire more people to give, in order to double their impact!

From now until September 8th, every dollar you donate to our Dream Team school tuition fund will be doubled, thanks to these fabulous supporters.

Click here to help send children in Haiti to school.

Meet our students
See photos and read their stories in their own words below. I hope they'll inspire you as much as they inspire me!

Jean Paul


Not sure how much to give? Even $10 or $20 will help send these children to school, but it you'd like to give more, here's a rough breakdown of costs:

$35 - School uniform
$50 - Books for the year
$75 - Bicycle for kids in rural areas
$125 - Transportation for the year (some kids can't ride bikes)
$350 - Tuition for the year

As always, thank you for believing in a better future for the children of Haiti with GOALS.