My father was born in Haiti. He moved to the states when he was eight. Life, for him, wasn’t easy growing up. His parents spoke little English and worked long hours for little pay to put him through school, and it was his job to shoulder the responsibility of creating a better life for both himself and for his future family. But, as he would teach me twenty years later, that burden could easily be turned into motivation. He instilled in me at that young age that not only I ought to strive for greatness in all that I do but also to never take anything for granted.

Coincidentally, those character building lessons would happen over a backyard kick-around; a tradition that would not only foster my love for the game but also strengthen my relationship with my father. Very quickly soccer became much more than a game for me. It became a way to make friends, a way to escape the hardships of life or school, and a platform on which my parents and I could always build a conversation.

Before I could stop it, my life had become intertwined with the game and suddenly we were inseparable. When I was angry, I went to play; when I was sad, I went to play; when I was happy, I went to play and so on and so forth. Now, with the advantage of hindsight and reflection, I can understand why I have such a passion and such a desire to teach it to others. I want other kids to have the game of soccer as an outlet the same way I did. I want other kids to feel the thrill of success and learn the sweetness of perseverance after facing the bitterness of defeat.

That’s why I donated to and will forever support GOALS, Haiti. As a Haitian-American soccer player, nothing could be closer to my heart than an organization that combines my love for my country with my love for the game. More than that, I believe soccer is a medium through which all kids can find joy, acceptance, fun, and happiness. Soccer truly is a beautiful game, not just because of how it is elegantly played on the field, but because of how it unites us off the field.       - Alex Charles 


Meet Francesca

We want to introduce our newest staff member, meet Francesca Cassius. Francesca first came to GOALS in 2010 as a young player on our Destra team.  Now at 22 she has joined our staff in a newly created position as part time administrative assistant. After graduating the GOALS program, Francesca took it upon herself to continue her education and most recently, took computer classes.  Four months ago she started interning with us. 

Her skills with Office software and her can-do attitude prompted us to hire her!  Here is what she had to say about GOALS. 

"When I started with GOALS I thought it was just a program to show kids how to play soccer, but then I learned that it taught much more than that. I love to play soccer and all of the kids just want a chance to play. Even in the sun and even in bare feet the kids come to play. Parents learned the value of the program through the teachings on such things as environmental clean up, recycling, planting trees and community volunteering. 
It was important to learn about health and how to prevent certain diseases such as cholera and sexually transmitted diseases. We also learned how to prevent teen pregnancy. 
I wanted to continue to participate with GOALS so I offered to volunteer and I have been interning for the past 4 months. It is not easy to find work in Haiti. Everyone has something to offer and can work. Attitudes in Haiti are changing on what women can do and women are entering fields traditionally for men only. I am grateful for this opportunity"

We are fortunate to have Francesca as part of our team and we look forward to working together!


Ask For Choice

For 2018 we have made a commitment to staff development including leadership training. Last week we held a week long coaches training with Coaches Across Continents (CAC). We have partnered with CAC for the past 6 years and we use their curriculum daily on our fields.

The focus of this years training was the third and final phase of the Ask For Choice curriculum which focuses on equity, gender equality and sex education. The mornings were spent in coach learning and discussion around the games and social issues they seek to solve. It was helpful to hear what worked and where we can improve on getting the message of the games across.

The afternoons were spent with our coaches taking what they had learned and working with their teams in practice. When I asked one of our founding coaches, Nadege, if she had seen a difference since the inception of this curriculum she said she had. Communities now embrace girls taking part in sports and it has opened up other possibilities for their inclusion. 

Thank you to Charlie and Pedro from CAC for working with us and sharing their expertise. Pedro wrote about his experiences with us in Haiti and you can read about it in this blog post. To see more images from the training check out our Facebook album.


United With Haiti

Last week, the day before the 8th anniversary of Haiti's devastating earthquake and at a time when most were in mourning, Haitians (along with Africans and El Salvadorians) learned of insulting and hateful remarks by the President of the United States.

This is yet another example of discriminatory and stereotypically ignorant commentary on Haiti.

At GOALS we work hard to instill values through our sports for good programs that help teach kids in rural Haiti they can go after dreams, that they can value themselves and that they can value each other.

We are fortunate to have a staff, coaches, Board of Directors and supporters that come from a place of compassion and caring. We will continue to stay united with Haiti. And we will continue to encourage love over hate, inclusion over separatism, and equality over divisiveness.

The Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat wrote an eloquent response to the remarks and it is a recommended read.


Happy New Year - Bon Ane!

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year! January 1st in Haiti is also their Independence Day. This year marks the 214th anniversary of Haiti’s independence from France when she became the first black republic.

The picture above is of a statue located in the capital city of Port- Au- Prince and is called “Neg Mawon”. It commemorates the landmark slave revolt that took place in 1804 when Haiti broke free from the French. It remains an icon of Haiti.

The sculpture is a powerful piece – the left leg extended with a broken shackle at the ankle denoting the hard-fought freedom, a machete in the right hand showing the strength to fight, and the conch shell at the lips harkening to the calling of the masses.

This statue stands strong and unbreakable.  As we celebrate the new year we also celebrate the strength and beauty of the Haitian people.

We look forward to the new year and look to carry the momentum of a great 2017 into our efforts for 2018. Thank you to all who gave to our matching campaign! We reached our goal and raised 24K which will sponsor one whole team for the year. We still have teams that need sponsorship. You can join us in supporting them by checking out our ways to help.

Our 12 teams will be getting daily soccer practice, playing in tournaments, pursuing education opportunities and giving back to their communities through volunteer service projects. We will be partnering with Coaches Across Continents and The Third Half this year.

Our award winning literacy program will be brought to two new communities and our tree nursery will continue to not only produce much needed vegetation but also teach out kids the importance for caring for our environment.

Our Impact Director Kathy McAllister has been promoted to serve as our Executive Director. Kathy along with Country Director James Louis-Charles will work with our Board as our leadership team guiding GOALS. Also playing a critical role will be our community members that have shaped our programs from our inception. It is the Haitian people that know best what their communities need and the road to get there. We are facilitators along that path.

If interested here is a great article op-ed from Haiti’s U.S. ambassador which appeared recently  in the New York Times.  It emphasizes  the importance for treating our Haitian neighbors with dignity and respect.


Giving Back

Community service is a core part of GOALS’ work in Haiti. It is a way for our kids to give back and learn the importance of volunteerism. To be on a team and play soccer they all commit volunteer hours on projects that will benefit their community.

Community service includes local development projects that involve players’ families and adults in the area. Service also includes activities and events organized for children younger than 10 years old, and players who don’t yet have places on local GOALS teams.

The kids submit ideas for proposed projects and with our staff they are provided the means to take charge of their own reasonable project.

Unlike other aspects of their life they may not be able to control, volunteering allows them to choose where and how to make a difference. It’s easy to get inspired with a cause they truly care about—and it’s rewarding for them to see their direct impact.

This year, the kids in Carrefour Croix painted the water faucets with bright colors to match their enthusiasm for the programs. The water faucets are a wonderful meeting place for the community members to meet and talk given there is no other water source in this community.

For the Destra kids, their priority was to fix the road leading to their isolated community. To get there, you must go on a road that runs through a sugar plantation for at least a mile. When it rains, the road is impossible for cars. At times even, taxi motorcyclists must avoid the road. It is the same road the kids must take to get their school.  Their presence in school is affected by the quality of the road. We assisted them with the tools and supplies to fix part of the road themselves.

As for the kids in Bossan, they had a bigger need since their field was recently bought by a foreign businessman to build a hotel. After a meeting where we demonstrated the importance of the programs to the community we were able to convince the owner of the sugar cane field next door to allow us to use the field next door. The Bossan kids have taken on the responsibility to clear the field so they can start using it in January.

From the kids’ tree nursery that they have been tending all year we have been able to plant over 3k trees. Most recently we planted 1,300 trees in rural Léogane over two days. 100 kids participated, and trees included mango, cherry, avocado and flamboyant.

These projects are a great way for the kids to give back to their villages and serve as important learning opportunities for these bright young community leaders.


Proud Graduates

Our literacy class held ceremonies last month where kids accepted their certificates of graduation in front of proud parents and GOALS staff members.

Their teacher Madame Sangla Cenatus taught the kids in her classes over the past 7 months. Her classes are full of energy as she incorporates dancing and singing in her literacy and numeracy course.

Of the 25 kids 23 kids passed their final exams, and only two did not pass.  Most importantly, the average test score for the class had jumped to 6.42/10 up from mid-term testing.

To celebrate their achievements, kids showed up in their Sunday best along with their parents and friends for the event.  A few students told the audience about the importance of the literacy program to them.  Other talented kids from the community were asked to present a sketch about how literacy can help with social inclusion and upward mobility in Haiti.  Finally, some kids prepared a choreographed dance routine for the occasion with music blasting.  It was the biggest event in Bossan that afternoon.

GOALS staff members Emilio, Jean Kendy and James gave a short speech explaining the importance of the program.  Madame Sangla also talked about how pleased she was to see her students improving their reading and writing skills over the few months that she taught them.  They had come a long way and we were all proud of them.

All the students were happy not only of the fact that they could now read and write, or in some cases, had improved on their low literacy skills, but also of the fact that their parents were full of pride with them.  At the end of the ceremony, parents were asking GOALS staff members to please take a picture of them with their graduating kid. As one parent told us, "It is because of GOALS, that some students who didn't know how to read and write, learned to read, write and to count.  This will motivate them to give education a lot more importance or value."

We hope this achievement will empower the kids to continue to go to school so they can continue with their education.

As GOALS Haiti strives to empower people in their communities, the ability to read and write is extremely important in the fight against social exclusion in Haiti.


Seeing GOALS in action: a truly eye-opening experience

It is one thing to kick start fundraising campaigns, to donate money and equipment, or to raise awareness for a charity. But it’s a whole other experience to see and understand the value of the work you put in, on the people it directly impacts. Travelling to where your work manifests itself, and journeying to different locations that might have remnants of the work you put in from far, far away can have a truly lasting impact.

I first got involved with GOALS in 2014, searching the internet for a service project for my Bar Mitzvah. I knew I wanted to raise money for a charity that somehow involved soccer but also had its roots in a developing country. Up came GOALS Haiti, the perfect match.

In appealing for money through friends, family, and their connections, I raised enough funds to sponsor one GOALS team. The team I chose is called the Boys’ and Girls’ Ti Poisson team, based out of Carrefour Croix. It was such a success that we have continued our sponsorship of the team for the past few years. It is great to get updates on how the team was doing, letters from the students, and postcards from the team thanking them for my sponsorship — but the most truly eye-opening experience was going to Haiti and seeing the GOALS teams in action.

This summer was my “eye opening” experience, my 3-day trip to Haiti to see the country and the GOALS Operations in Leogane and the surrounding villages. On the way to the village of Destra was the village of Carrefour Croix, where my sponsored team is from! I was so excited when I realized that the group of kids who had just piled into the back of the pickup truck I was in was the team I had sponsored. I thought to myself, “I get to see kids wearing clothes I had donated, playing the game I love, all with my help.” Arriving at the field site we were welcomed by young kids not yet old enough to play and an astonishing view of the surrounding mountains.

One of GOALS’ best coaches, a clearly well-liked and charismatic woman, was leading a pre-game cheer/activity with the kids. The kids were having so much fun doing something as simple as a group warm-up combined with a song and dance. After trying to communicate with some of the kids on the sideline and carrying a few around, the game started. I was shocked to see how many people showed up. A girls’ game with so much support in a country that has issues with gender equity is a powerful thing. This, I think, can attest to the substantial impact that GOALS has on the communities it exists in -- changing cultural norms for the betterment of society, little by little. The game was lots of fun to watch. People all around were gathered for the love of GOALS and the game of soccer.

After the game, we left and walked a bit into the town of Destra, maybe about 200 yards away. I was quite surprised; I expected the villages I had heard so much about to be much larger and have a bit more infrastructure. This town was quite small and did not have a road going through it.  We had a basic lunch in the schoolroom of the Destra Community Center. The center has clearly become the focal point of the village, with boys, girls, men, and women of all different ages gathered around, talking, eating lunch, and shucking coconuts.

All in all, I had seen the team I had sponsored in Carrefour Croix, a game at the Destra field, a coach in action, and a squadron of spectators who rely on or are connected with someone who relies on GOALS in some way. A community center, another GOALS town, and a school room with a chalk board. All thanks to GOALS, and the work of those supporting the organization. It was seeing it all in action, not just observing from far away. This, I can assure you, is what it means to see your work in action. And it is a truly invaluable experience. - Max R 

A Perfect Match!

It is the perfect match – soccer and learning. We have seen the impact on our kids as well as entire communities through our sport for development model. Soccer is the most popular sport in Haiti and all of our kids love to play it. It is through that love that our kids immerse themselves in learning.

They come together daily for practice with their team mates and coaches. My favorite part of the day is to see the kids coming from all directions.  The older kids help the younger kids, not only with their soccer skills, but even with tying their shoes.

They tell us that GOALS has helped them to be healthier, get an education and be a better friend. After school programs are rare in Haiti and kids are hungry for inclusion. They welcome the opportunity to participate in our other programs such as literacy and community service.

Being part of something bigger and giving back to their communities teaches important skills and gives them a sense of pride.

“I love soccer. When I started back in 2010 girls’ soccer was not that popular in Haiti. But GOALS brought that opportunity here. Now the community sees how it can take us further. I started volunteering with GOALS because I wanted to see the program grow. Now I am working with the little kids helping them to learn, play and grow.” – Rosemirlande, former GOALS student & current Coach

Currently we are in need of raising 20K in team sponsorship support that provides daily programing for 25 kids for one year. Through a generous match offer from one of our longest supporters every dollar contributed between Oct 18th and Dec 20th will be matched dollar for dollar up to 10k.

Help us reach our target and stretch your gift even farther by taking advantage of our match opportunity. Together with your support we are providing the vision that is creating young leaders.

Join us in changing entire communities and fostering growth in rural Haiti through team GOALS.


Kathy McAllister
Impact Director

1 Day, 75 kids, 3 coaches & 1k trees planted

The goal of our tree nursery project was to teach our kids about the environment and the importance of planting trees. With the help from our agronomist our Bossan team kids planted 2k tree seedlings over the summer.

This project took on an even greater relevance due to the devastation caused by hurricane Matthew last October, which Haiti is still recovering from. The importance of planting trees in Haiti has long been talked about but now there appears to be evidence that they can actually reduce the likelihood and severity of hurricanes (check out this article if interested).

The Grand’Anse region which is one of the lushest areas of Haiti was the hardest hit by Matthew, the greenery and agriculture in the region was almost completely wiped out.  We decided we wanted to contribute to the reforestation of the region.

Recently we loaded up a “tap tap” and buses with staff members, our Agronomist Onel, 3 coaches along with 75 kids from our communities to go plant trees from our nursery. We went to a community near Les Cayes which is 4 hours from our sites. We had one truck just for the saplings which included 1,000 plants varying from moringa, mangos and flamboyant trees.  

The kids and everyone else were excited for this rare outing to do community service outside of their own communities. We collaborated with a local agronomist Yvette, and she partnered for us with a local youth group. The community we worked with is called Madan Comb, which is 15 minutes outside of Les Cayes.  We spent the day unloading and planting trees and after lunch we organized a small soccer game for our kids with the local youth group.  The score was not what was important but the camaraderie and the sense of community that both our kids and the kids from Madan Comb experienced were. In the end, it was a great outing for all of us.

Most of our community service projects are done within our own community.  It is important for our kids, who have never left their own town, to understand the need to give back to others beyond their community. Taking our kids outside of Leogane to collaborate with other community leaders for a good cause is part of the process of creating future leaders of the country. 

We plan to plant the remaining tree seedlings within our communities in the coming weeks and look to replant the tree nursery with a new crop next year.

Annual Report - Ann ale! - Let's Go!

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to present our annual report.  It has been a productive time for GOALS and you can see some of the highlights that we are happy to share with you.

Your support has made the difference in the daily lives of our kids, their families and their whole communities.

Through programs running strong, lessons learned and rising to the challenge of natural disasters, our staff has been committed to our mission: to advance youth leadership through soccer and education to create stronger, healthier communities in rural Haiti.

Thank you for being a part of Team GOALS!  I look forward to sharing our progress with you and as always if you have any questions or want to learn more feel free to reach out to me.

Best, Kathy

Kathy McAllister
Impact Director - GOALS Haiti


Recycling in Rural Haiti

If you have ever been to Haiti then you probably have noticed all of the soda and water plastic bottles littering the environment in some areas.  Because there are not a lot of garbage collection or recycling centers in Haiti, a lot of those bottles usually end up on our beaches from having been washed up in our rivers.  Subsequently, they also end up in our seas causing environmental damage.   

To tackle this problem, GOALS recently teamed up with the Tropical Recycling Company to restart our recycling program.  That collaboration was arranged through our partnership with the Caribbean Bottling Company.

Starting at the beginning of July, GOALS received 10 large recycling bags that were placed on our different fields. Our kids have started recycling the plastic bottles that are littering their environment.  It is great to see them get involved and take an active interest in cleaning up their communities. To launch the program, GOALS started with a small contest between all the fields to see who can collect the most bottles.  The prize for the winning team will be a field trip to visit a museum in the capitol. Since many of our kids have never left rural Leogane this is a great opportunity to explore their country and culture.   

The benefits of this program are not only the obvious of cleaner spaces and increased volunteerism in the community but also potential for income producing activity through the sales of recycled materials.

Join us in our work to support strong communities in rural Haiti. 

Learning and Growing

Our award winning literacy program is going strong and our new classes started in April in Bossan. We are pleased to have a new teacher Mme Sangla Senatus. Because of high demand for a spot in the classes we have had to separate the kids to have classes for the younger kids and the older kids so we now have two sessions instead of one.

In the isolated, subsistence-based villages where GOALS works, there are no schools, no paved roads and no electricity or running water. Nearly all adults are low- or non-literate and just 72% of children attend school. The ‘Leveling the Playing Field’ literacy project uses the power of sport to build locally-led literacy programming in order to create fully literate communities, thereby improving local leadership, health and future earning potential.

To date, 64 children and 20 adults have successfully completed the program, each achieving measurable progression in learning. As a group, students have improved from a starting average test score of 13% to a final score of 66%.

For children who cannot attend school and adults who never had the opportunity, the GOALS literacy program provides their first chance to learn to read and write, establishing a more equitable playing field for everyone.

Our literacy teacher Sangla teaching our kids

We hope to bring our literacy program to all those that need it in our villages as we know it provides life changing results. Join us in changing the playing field and impacting our communities one child at a time, consider donating today!

GOALS is changing lives through soccer, and creating new opportunities for Haiti’s brightest young leaders and you are a part of that important work.

We know that we could not achieve our vision without support like yours.


Introducing our New Impact Director!

Dear GOALS family,
As you know, we’ve had some big leadership changes in the past few months. Jolinda did an amazing job recruiting a one-of-a-kind Country Director, James, before she stepped down as Executive Director in December.

For the Board of Directors, knowing that Jolinda was stepping down was daunting. She is irreplaceable, dearly loved, and leaves very big shoes to fill. That is why it is so exciting for me to introduce you to our new Impact Director, Kathy McAllister. Together, Kathy and James are our new executive leadership team, and with two phenomenal new directors at the helm, we couldn’t be more excited about GOALS’ future.

In joining GOALS, Kathy brings with her an impressive list of accomplishments: she first lived in Haiti as a Peace Corps volunteer and went on to found a Haiti-based nonprofit organization. She has over ten years of nonprofit experience, ranging from grassroots organizations to multi-million dollar foundations. Her work has included strategic planning, finance and administration, fundraising, and communications. Most importantly of all, she has a deep-seated love of Haiti based on her personal experiences, her work, and her impressive expertise. Kathy writes:

"Working with GOALS is an exciting opportunity for me as it allows me to use my experience and skills for a program that I know is helping kids to actively engage in a positive way in their communities. The development through sports program is fostering individual leadership and good health while mentoring volunteerism and community development. Along with James Louis-Charles, I look forward to continuing the great work that has been established by the founder and Board Chair Kona Shen and the previous Executive Director Jolinda Hackett."

Kathy began in January, and she has hit the ground running in a truly impressive way. She immediately helped us increase our capacity in innumerable ways, and I have no doubt that she is going to help GOALS improve as an organization.

We have always prided ourselves at GOALS for prioritizing our programs, our local staff, and our results in rural Haiti. Until now, we have never had an employee based full-time in the United States. As GOALS prepares to turn seven, the Board felt strongly that this was the right time to invest more fully in our U.S.-based operations, many of which are impossible to manage in Leogane, Haiti.

One of Kathy’s primary roles can be described as this: to dramatically improve how we measure, share, and support our programs for children in rural Haiti. She will wear multiple hats, from Chief Storyteller to Development Officer. As an organization, we care about your experience as a member of “Team GOALS.” We want to know about how we can improve your experience as a donor, and what questions you may have about our impact. These questions will guide much of Kathy’s work in her first year, and we hope you will reach out to her directly with your thoughts.

On that note, thank you for your ongoing support of GOALS. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Kathy as our phenomenal new Impact Director, and I look forward to sharing our results as we work together to make GOALS better than ever before.

With love,
Founder & Board Chair


Celebrating Jolinda

Leadership transitions are always tough for young organizations—and especially so when the outgoing leaders are as strong, caring, and irreplaceable as Jolinda Hackett. Jolinda joined GOALS back in January 2012, and two years later, she became our second-ever Executive Director. Three years later, Jolinda's term as Executive Director has ended, and we owe her an enormous thank you for her hard work. As I wrote in 2012:

"Jolinda has been making a difference on the ground in Haiti for over three years now. Since joining GOALS in January 2012, she has proven to be an exceptional asset. She is fluent in Haitian Creole, extraordinarily impactful, and takes on oversized challenges with a smile. Not only has she weathered hurricanes with us (two, in fact!), but she worked alongside our coaches and players to lead clean-up efforts afterwards as well. As a program manager and then Country Director, Jolinda has been responsible for many of our proudest moments, including winning the Beyond Sport award in London, partnering with Coaches Across Continents ... and the Klinik Lasante for health services, and sending some of our most talented girls to the national youth football training academy."

I have heard time and time again from partners, donors, and volunteers about Jolinda's extraordinary abilities leading GOALS' programs in Haiti. I have personally appreciated our adventures hiking up and down Haiti's beautiful mountains and trekking around the country in pursuit of Kanaval, R&R, and Barbancourt. If you visit our programs, you'll hear one thing from our kids over and over again: "kòt Jolinda? Where's Jolinda?"

Kona and Jolinda

We benefited from having Jolinda as our organization's leader for far longer than we had hoped to expect back in 2012. As Executive Director, her accomplishments are impossible to summarize in just one blog post, but the highlights include:

  • The construction of GOALS' very own community center in Destra, which recently weathered Hurricane Matthew 
  • Winning our second-ever international Beyond Sport Award for a truly incredibly youth literacy program 
  • Helping our first-ever Jovan Julien Dream Team Scholarship students graduate from high school!

There are many more accomplishments that we could share. In addition, Jolinda has helped increase GOALS' capacity internally, which is less glamorous, but just as critical to our organization as we near our seventh year. This work would be difficult anywhere, and Jolinda has led GOALS under extremely difficult conditions in rural Haiti. Under Jolinda's leadership, GOALS weathered multiple hurricanes, grieved the losses of players who have passed away, and kept things running smoothly amidst tumultuous political upheavals in Haiti.

It is impossible to share what Jolinda has meant to GOALS over the past five years. From our youngest players—whom Jolinda called our "ti pwason," or "little fishes"—to our founding Board members, we thank Jolinda for her hard work and her big heart. GOALS, along with all of our far-flung members of "Team GOALS," is better as a result.

Thank you,
Founder & Board Chair

PS - We are excited to introduce our newest Director who is helping GOALS with this transition, and beyond - more news coming soon!


Why the future of GOALS is brighter than ever

With Hurricane Matthew and other challenges, 2016 has been a year of ups and downs for us at GOALS, but now is a time to share some of the best news we've had all year. Introducing the very bright future leadership of GOALS, our new Country Director, James Louis-Charles!

James is a coach and educator who holds an MA in Sustainable Peace through Sport from United Nations University for Peace and the International University of Monaco, and, as a long-time fan of our work, he jumped at the opportunity to join Team GOALS! With an introduction like that, you can imagine that we were only too happy to have him on board! James comes to GOALS as a Haitian-American mid-career professional who has long held a dream of returning to his home country to help youth develop through sport and, more specifically, his dream is to further the potential that soccer has to transform Haiti.

As Country Director, James brings fresh expertise and leadership, and, like everyone at GOALS, he has big dreams for our youth and our programs, particularly through mentoring our coaches. As a licensed coach himself, James says:

"I'm a strong believer in training our coaches by working with organizations such as Coaches Across Continents to provide specific training for social issues such as gender equality and to have the strongest impact possible on our kids. Discipline and goal-setting and all social messages start with our coaches, who are role models in their communities."

At GOALS, we've always believed in investing in our local coaches who are both change-agents in their communities and GOALS' biggest cheerleaders. We're thrilled that James will help us take it to the next level.

Besides mentoring our coaches, James' favorite part of GOALS so far has been seeing the impact that our programs have for our kids and knowing how much they anticipate GOALS each day: "For GOALS kids, this is the highlight of their day. They don't have electricity to watch TV or play video games, and they'll even play barefoot if they don't have equipment, which just shows the importance of soccer in their life."

James has already been bringing some incredible changes to GOALS and has been leading our response to Hurricane Matthew. This week, he's at the International Forum on Peace and Sport in Monaco, where he was invited to give a presentation about GOALS. All of us at GOALS, from our coaches and kids to our board and staff, couldn't be prouder to have him on Team GOALS and representing GOALS to the world at the Peace and Sport Forum.

James (left) and FIFA Communications Manager Honey Thaljieh at the International Forum on Peace and Sport in Monaco

Byenvini, James! Welcome to team GOALS!

Meet the rest of GOALS' staff here.


Hurricane Matthew Update: Small Steps and BIG Plans

It’s been a while since our last update, and this one will be full of good news (the very best news is at the end, so be sure to read it all!). While much of Haiti remains devastated by Hurricane Matthew, GOALS communities in Leogane are well on their way to recovery.

Thanks to your support, GOALS was able to address the immediate concerns of providing food and clean drinking water to the areas which were heavily affected by Hurricane Matthew. We’re proud to say that there hasn’t been a single reported instance of cholera in these communities, which was a major concern. We’re grateful that our previous hygiene outreach and water filter trainings and distributions helped mitigate this risk. Our next goal was assessing damages and trying to get life back to normal as quickly as possible. We met individually with every single one of our children and their families to assess their losses and determine how to best respond:

  • Roughly 25% of GOALS participants had floodwater enter their homes
  • 20% experienced severe housing damage; 7 roofs and 25 homes were completely lost to the wind and rain
  • About 90 children lost material possessions, including their cleats, sports clothes, school clothes, books and materials.

Thanks to your support, GOALS was able to buy school uniforms, backpacks, school shoes, and school books and school supplies to help those children return to school. As of last week, about 90% of our kids are back to school, and by the end of this week, all of our children should be back in school as normal. Thank you for helping us make it happen!

Support the GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund

What’s next? While we are continuing to make sure there are no children in our communities going hungry, our next response to Hurricane Matthew will focus on livelihoods and housing. We are working on a micro-finance partnership to create special fund so that GOALS parents may take out a small, interest-free loan to help replace lost livelihoods. Many families lost livestock, agriculture, and merchandise for their small businesses. This partnership is not yet confirmed.

Ready for our biggest and best news? We are thrilled to announce a new partnership to replace the tarp, tent, and wooden houses which were damaged or destroyed in Hurricane Matthew. Many people were simply unable to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake, and were still living in tarp or tent structures, now in tatters post-hurricane. But not for much longer!

With help from our coaches and community leaders, we have already assessed and identified 60 families who qualify to receive a house under our selection criteria. Of these 60 households, for example, five include people with physical or mental handicaps and nearly 2/3 are currently living in a tarp structure (the rest are living in either hand-made tin or wooden houses). These are families which were forgotten by larger aid groups after the earthquake of 2010, and GOALS refuses to let them be forgotten again after Hurricane Matthew.

While we would love to be able to get ALL of our children out of tents and into safe and dignified housing, we are starting with a commitment to build a minimum of five houses and, funding dependent, we are optimistic about providing houses for all of our GOALS families who have been unable to recover on their own - (up to 100 total houses!) - by the end of 2017. We are thrilled about the opportunity to provide job skills training for GOALS youth who will work alongside skilled tradesmen in constructing these houses.

Thank you again, for all your support and for allowing us to impact these youth and their families in Leogane!

Support the GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund


Hurricane Matthew Update Part III

A large part of Haiti has been devastated by Hurricane Matthew causing a massive humanitarian crisis for the foreseeable future. The UN estimates nearly 1.5 million people are in need of assistance and half of those critically so. Due to the significant loss of agriculture (both crops and livestock), recovery will take years.

House in GOALS community destroyed by Hurricane Matthew

At GOALS, we were spared the worst of the impact, but our programs and people were still very affected. While we are still assessing damages, we know that many children lost material possessions (such as school uniforms, school books and sport clothing and cleats) when they were washed away by flash flooding and storm surges. Families lost their crops to winds and flooding, and livestock animals and fishing boats were also washed away. In addition, many houses were damaged and some destroyed, while other GOALS families, still living in tarp structures after the earthquake, are patching together bits of shredded tarp to attempt repairs.

Support the GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund

Here’s how GOALS has responded so far
Before the storm:

  • GOALS coaches alerted communities to the oncoming storm. In coastal areas, staff went door to door to reiterate the severity of the threat. Unfortunately, for the rural poor, there is no real way to prepare for a hurricane. There is little food to stockpile, and nowhere to evacuate to.
  • GOALS staff met with partners to discuss immediate logistical support in a worst-case scenario.

During the storm:

  • GOALS staff kept in touch with remote areas via WhatsApp. Even in the height of the storm, we lost contact for only a few hours.
  • Dozens of people moved into the GOALS center to shelter during and after the event for several days until storm surges subsided and their dirt floors began to dry out and they could return home. We are very, very grateful that our building survived well and provided this important community function.
  • After the winds passed, the storm surges and flash flooding began from the heavy rains behind the eye of the storm.
  • GOALS staff was able to remotely send data plan top-ups to all of our coaches to allow them to continue to keep in touch via WhatsApp throughout.
GOALS kids cleaning debris off the soccer field after Hurricane Matthew

Immediately after the storm:

  • Two GOALS communities were completely cut off with no land access in or out. GOALS staff in the city of Leogane hired a boat to bring immediate relief supplies to these areas. With two days of solid rain, GOALS prevented an estimated 300 people from experiencing a third and fourth day of hunger with this distribution while access roads were still impassable. See photos here.
  • GOALS staff deployed to some of the hardest hit areas along the south coast (from Port Salut to Port au Piment) to assist with logistical support including transport, translation, meeting with local governments, securing local staff and assessing damages, access and security risks for incoming personnel in order to allow other larger aid groups to hit the ground faster and more effectively.

After the emergency phase:

  • As the roads dried out, we ensured GOALS families were able to leave their communities to obtain supplies from local markets, which were also slowly recovering.
  • Our next response was to provide tools (rakes, machetes, brooms, etc.) to help communities clean up debris on their own (and so GOALS kids could remove trees, branches and other debris from the soccer fields!)

Team GOALS assessing lost items from flood ie school clothes

Next is the assessment phase:

  • This is where we are currently. Our coaches are nearly done checking on the status of every single one of our 400 enrolled participants, scholarship students, alumni players and literacy students and checking for any other serious damage and loss in their communities.
  • And of course, it wouldn’t be GOALS without youth leadership! Two GOALS youth, Bettina and Rose Mirlande, are volunteering to help coaches with data collection.
  • After we have a complete and accurate count of specific needs, we will respond accordingly. Our response will focus on:
    • Replacing lost materials such as school uniforms, school books and backpacks, sports clothing and cleats. We hope our supporters will respond with donations of soccer uniforms and cleats to help with this step.
    • Responding to the ongoing food need: Many crops and livestock were lost, and GOALS communities were already somewhat food-insecure (nearly all GOALS children eat only one meal each day).
    • We are exploring opportunities to address loss of income such as helping small merchants recover through micro-finance or expanding our bakery program to offer more jobs to GOALS parents and alumni players.

While we perform our needs assessment, we are also planning a response for how GOALS can assist in other harder hit areas:

  • GOALS youth are assembling hygiene kits for our partners and friends at Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMD), and a few older teens will be traveling with CMMD to the region of Cote de Fer to help distribute supplies. Cote de Fer was hit harder than Leogane, but we believe it is safe to access for our older youth.
  • When the critical phase is over and it is safe to do so, GOALS coaches are planning to enter affected communities to provide therapeutic play as this is something they are, unfortunately, personally experienced with. After the 2010 earthquake, four GOALS coaches were specially trained in using sport to teach critical health messages for internally displaced and vulnerable populations following natural disasters by Mercy Corps and Partners for Health.
  • Older GOALS teens will travel to the hardest hit areas to provide community service by helping to remove debris from beaches, farm lands, schools, churches and other public spaces when it is safe to do so.

Our largest need, however, will be for housing.

A GOALS dad living in tent after the earthquake

Many of GOALS’ families were unable to rebuild after their homes were destroyed in the earthquake of 2010. Dozens were still living in tents or tarps which are now shattered and torn from Hurricane Matthew and, with no alternative, they are still living inside of these ragged structures. Many others have cobbled together shelter from bits of tin to form walls and a roof. One family even continues to inhabit a shelter which was crushed by a fallen tree.

GOALS is determined to provide safe and dignified housing for those who have now lost their homes twice. We are reaching out to partners for a way to make it happen but, with your support, we will go at it alone if needed, albeit on a smaller scale than we could with a partner.

Support the GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund

The GOALS English classroom at Terrasonson will need to be rebuilt

Schools, soccer clubs and individuals wishing to donate materials: YES we can put your donations of new or gently-used sports gear to use helping children in Haiti.

Please see our Donate Equipment page for more details. 


Hurricane Matthew Update Part II

GOALS was able to hire a boat today to bring food, water and cooking fuel to about 300 people who have been stuck in two coastal areas where we work and where roads were too flooded to go to town. This would have been day 3 without any food for these GOALS families. We were able to do this work today without hesitation knowing that you, our friends and supporters, would help support this work. So a huge, huge thank you to those of you who have donated already. We are breathing a bit easier tonight, knowing that our families in Destra and Bossan were able to eat today, after two days of nothing.

After addressing the immediate need, our next concern will be hygiene/cholera and then long-term needs, since all crops and most livestock just plain gone. A big part of GOALS' role will be helping communities to get back to daily life and normalcy on their own by continuing to work our network of local soccer coaches and community leaders. Reopening schools and soccer fields helps life to get back to normal, and, providing jobs in local areas will be critical.

Support the GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund

Behind the scenes, our staff has been working around the clock, partnering to provide logistical support to other aid groups, allowing them to hit the ground faster and more efficiently. See our partner coalition below.

Coach Liguerson

The photos and reports from other areas in Haiti are devastating. While GOALS will be lending logistical and translation support to recovery in these areas. GOALS own work will be focused on the four villages in Leogane where we have networks and existing programs. Our ongoing programs impact 400 children daily, but we will be supporting all those impacted in these areas, an estimated 6000 people.

Here are our very trusted friends and partners, should you choose to support their work in other areas of Haiti:

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.


Hurricane Matthew Update Part I

Rain and flooding from Hurricane Matthew in Leogane is severe. Many GOALS families have had homes destroyed and rising flood waters and storm surges are affecting our communities. Floods have devastated crops, washed away livestock and damaged most houses in Destra and Bossan; Carrefour Croix and Terrasonson are also flooded. Two GOALS communities remain completely inaccessible by road but our coaches there were able to send out a couple photos via WhatsApp. Fortunately, GOALS has a modest supply of food and cooking fuel prepared, which we'll keep trying to deliver to those who are stuck. If roads remain too flooded, we'll try to send a small boat to these communities tomorrow. Thankfully all our communities have working water filtration systems from GOALS and our partner Waves for Water to provide some clean drinking water but hunger will be our next big concern as tomorrow will be day three without food for many people. We are also grateful that the GOALS building in Destra withstood the hurricane unharmed and is sheltering many people with no where else to go.

Thank you for everyone offering to donate. We have set up a fundraising page here:
GOALS Hurricane Matthew Recovery and Relief Fund

Funds are needed immediately for: food, general sanitary supplies (soap, hand sanitizer), tools to remove mud and trees, and other small expenses such as gas and cooking fuel to prepare food. As you know, GOALS is a small, locally-led organization and we are limited as to the resources we have available.

We are also partnering to provide logistical and translation help with other large incoming aid groups, but we will need both immediate and long term support in order for our staff, children and families to recover. GOALS has been working in Leogane since 2010 and is dedicated to the long-term recovery and development of rural communities through local leadership and community engagement through sport. This will be another long, hard recovery process, but GOALS will be there every step of the way.

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.