Athletics

Pretend Play

By Guesly Dessieux

For past week, we have unfortunately been unable to hold soccer games or practices on the Project Living Hope fields due to two nights of heavy rain that left the fields partially flooded. As the fields began to dry out we waited to play because we did not want the smooth surfaces to be damaged.

1d8f29b2-4a6f-49b4-a566-aeadbe721e6f.JPG
IMG_7839.JPG

About ten of us men have been working endlessly this week to dig ditches and place sand bags around the tops of the fields to divert future rainfall and prevent flooding. Yesterday we reopened the fields for practices and we hope we will be able to have games this coming Saturday.  

30f4bf87-ec08-49f2-a4c9-d767914cdc31.JPG
95b06138-955c-4c73-98dc-eccb91df4e89.JPG

Around noon today, as several of us were digging ditches, I looked over to see three boys around 15 years old walking on one of the soccer fields. They were all nicely dressed in their school uniforms with backpacks on their backs. I wondered why they would make the one mile walk just to come to the field. Kenson, one of our newest Project Living Hope employees, and I stopped working to see what the boys were up to. What I saw was interesting. The boys put down their backpacks and began pretending they were playing soccer. One of them got into the goal and the other two pretended to shoot on him.  The one playing goalie would dive and the other two would cheer and run in circles like he had scored. It brought smiles to both of our faces, knowing the fields had been closed and the boys had made the walk up the hill just to see if we had reopened them.  I called to them and said, Would you like to use a real ball?” Their eyes lit up and with big smiles all three said, “Really?!”. We kicked a ball to them and they continued playing, this time actually shooting goals.  We continued to watch and smile. Kenson told me how this place already means a lot to the town of Camp Marie and I told him it was wonderful to see that we are creating a place where youth feel comfortable, cared about, and safe. 

IMG_7835.JPG
9b18038b-6f83-481f-9297-1e0bbeadcc60.JPG

After they were done, one of the boys brought back the soccer ball and said thank you. He commented that the field had been closed for a couple of days and they had missed being here. They just wanted to check it out prior to having practice tonight. It is amazing to me the hope we can already sense in the youth that are involved in our soccer leagues. To have a place to play along with all the equipment they need is uncommon in Haiti. I am grateful for all our donors and volunteers who have helped us come this far. Project Living Hope is not currently at a place financially where we can install artificial turf on our fields, but it will indeed be amazing when we are able to replace the dirt fields with turf ones. Until then, I look forward to more pretend soccer games as we continue to trust God with every step. 

If you would like to support PLH, you can do so by following this link

Construction: Mass Grading

fullsizeoutput_2d4b.jpeg

In the fall of 2017, Project Living Hope purchased 19.5 acres of property for the construction of the King Center. Located just 900 yards from the center of Camp Marie, the King Center will be an extension of the community.

fullsizeoutput_2360.jpeg

With the road to our property completed, we moved to the next stage in construction - mass grading of the property. Operators and project managers in Oregon came together and created a 7-week plan based on the civil engineer’s grading map. Four of these men traveled to Haiti in February to carry out the project with the assistance of Haitian drivers and laborers. On February 2, 2019 PLH broke ground on the King Center campus! It was a huge milestone but only just the beginning. We are so thankful for all of your prayers and support that made this day possible.

IMG_5819.JPG
Immediately it felt like we were working as a team. We all started from a deep faith in God, and a sense that what we were doing was important. I think that foundation made it easy to respect each other and to truly enjoy the gifts that each person brought to the trip.
— Jay Lyman
IMG_6430.JPG

After overcoming challenges with the equipment breaking down and diesel being in short supply, they had a very productive first week. Unfortunately, due to continued national fuel shortages and widespread protests, the work had to be halted.

Three and a half weeks later though we were able to send a team to resume the digging.  The mass grading project spanned five weeks during the months of February and March. Fifteen American and ten Haitian team members worked on the project and an estimated 80,000 yards of dirt was moved by eight machines and seven dump trucks.

IMG_7094.JPG
The people of Haiti are just oppressed by where they live, they have plenty of talent, operating equipment, constructing, negotiating, and the individual Haitian’s are smart. I didn’t run into anyone in Haiti who wouldn’t be as successful as myself, given the same opportunities that I have had.
— Jim Swenson

The building pads for the King Center facilities, three soccer fields and the pond and ditch were completed. The board approved $150,000 for this phase of construction.  Because of delays, it looks like we will end up being a little over budget. We are so grateful for all of our excavation volunteers and for how much was accomplished.

IMG_7149.jpg

We are excited for the next phase of construction! Two shipping containers have been donated and are being delivered to Haiti. They will be used to form the sides of the shop and we plan to start construction of that as soon as they are delivered. We are thankful for the support, the momentum, and the progress. We need your support financially to move to the next phase of construction. Would you like to partner with us on this project?  If so, please donate here.

fullsizeoutput_363c.jpeg

Our excavation teams worked hard to get the three soccer fields completed because this month we will be starting our youth soccer league! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to receive frequent updates.  The kids and coaches are excited!  We wish all the men who worked hard to prepare the land could see the fruit of their labor firsthand.

fullsizeoutput_368f.jpeg

PLH National Christian Soccer League Season Comes to a Close

By Thonny Fabien

PLH Haiti Operations Manager

As planned, The Project Living Hope National Christian Soccer League has come to the end of its first season. One final championship match will take place in December. We thank God for providing the opportunity and seeing it through to completion. We want to thank also PLH for their belief and trust they have put on me to do the work of God. Sports are an effective way to make disciples who, in turn, make disciples for Christ. Sports can be used to transform lives of the athletes; change the mindset of people; help children learn fast; and help people turn their back on alcohol, drugs, smoking, violence, etc. The PLH National Christian Soccer League seeks to draw people to Christ and bring peace to the communities. The league is structured to create opportunities for the athletes and facilitate long-term development in the country.

PHOTO-2018-11-05-12-57-23 2.jpg
I coach soccer because I never want children to participate in bad things. Like Thonny says, Coach De Vie “Coach of Life”. When I first heard that term, I felt good because when you are a coach of life you always talk to someone to help them make good decisions for their life. I’m not an expert in playing soccer, but I was a player and I love soccer. I am not an expert player, but in talking to them, I am an expert. I’m the moral coach.
— Coach Benedic
PHOTO-2018-11-21-15-09-26.jpg

As a leader, I always take note of the fans reaction; players, coaches, and referees actions; and the team organization. What critical and positive things do they do? How are they responding or reacting to each other? And what do I need to change or teach in the future? I see that the winning team is always celebrating, enjoying the game, and happy; but the losing team leaves the field sad, unhappy, and tired, and they complain that referees contribute to their failure. During a loss, the fans sometimes support their teams but sometimes they are mad and ready to fight. That’s the struggle with sports. We can’t have an environment like that!

What can be done differently? And how we can use sports not to follow culture but to create our own culture?  We need passion for community development. We need to be courageous leaders who step up. We need to see how the community does things and we need listen to them as well. We need to continue to train coaches and referees training to be servant leaders. If we make a positive influence on the coaches, the coaches will influence players and the players will soon influence their families and community. The whole community can change step by step. We need a movement where we share one vision and step up to difficulties and bring results.

I was born to play soccer. I’ve always loved to play. My dream was to become a big soccer player. But there was no opportunity for that. Then I wanted to be a big coach. Even though I never had training to be a coach, when there was a team in this area, I always went to practice with them like a coach. I always had in mind to be a great coach, but I didn’t have the opportunity. But thanks to God, PLH came, and now I will try to be like I imagined before.
— Coach Guy
OMpZYd+bTa6YNOuAtzJzzA.jpg

Therefore, through sports we will create our culture by investing our time into the life of the people. Our goal is to see a nation transformed through sports. Here are some positive steps we have made through the work Project Living Hope is doing so far:

  1. For the first time, we have a national Christian league in Haiti.

  2. Players and fans watch the games and hear the gospel.

  3. We prohibit use of alcohol at our soccer games.

  4. We create opportunity for the players to perform and live strong values, such as: serving one another, working as a team, protecting the environment, and living a life of integrity.

  5. We create opportunity for the players and coaches to maximize their talent.

  6. We equip leaders to do their work and we engage them into the work of God.

  7. We create opportunity for players to visit other parts of Haiti.

  8. We have created a leadership team with servant leadership training and high expectations.

  9. We create an opportunity for vendors to come and sell food and drinks at the games.

  10. We create a movement of sports where disciples can be made through sports and play.

PHOTO-2018-11-05-13-05-39 2.jpg

Our goal is to extend the league to every area of Haiti. We want to see the whole country using sports as a tool to transform lives through Christ. We want to see our Christian athletes be a model for their teammates, proclaim the gospel, and make disciples for Christ. We want to create a movement of Christ-like servant leaders throughout Haiti.

The First Soccer Game on the NEW PLH Pitch: Camp Marie vs. Port-au-Prince

By Sara Dessieux

The Camp Marie team has been playing in our Christian men's league since August, but they've had to use the field in the nearby town of Montrouis as their home turf.  This past Sunday they got to play their first game on the soccer pitch on the Project Living Hope land right in Camp Marie and the Dessieux family and Laura were there to experience it. 

The Project Living Hope Soccer Pitch - Camp Marie, Haiti

The Project Living Hope Soccer Pitch - Camp Marie, Haiti

Some local boys digging out roots and smoothing out lumps in preparation for the first game.

Some local boys digging out roots and smoothing out lumps in preparation for the first game.

Coaches Benedic and Willio gave the team a pep talk after the final practice.

Coaches Benedic and Willio gave the team a pep talk after the final practice.

It's a mile-long walk (or ride for the lucky ones) and admission was charged, but oh my goodness, the fans came!  It's so hard to capture just how many people were there in pictures, but fun was had by A LOT of people. An estimated 450 tickets were sold. Camp Marie held a 1-0 lead until the last two minutes when the opposing team from Port-au-Prince scored on a penalty kick.  Tie game.  Oh how I wish you could all see firsthand how gorgeous that piece of Haiti is!

IMG_1836.jpg
IMG_1835.jpg
IMG_1827.jpg
IMG_1829.jpg

This coming Sunday, Camp Marie will host their second game on the new home turf, facing Play It Forward from Fonds-Parisien in the league semi-finals.

On the Horizon: The King Center Phase One

By: Jerry and Claire King

Haiti has been at the heart of Project Living Hope for over four years, but in the hearts of its individual members for many, many more. Now, Camp Marie, specifically, is in our hearts.

Since our land purchase for the King Center in Camp Marie last Fall, we have sought to truly comprehend the heart of the local people and to embrace their community as our own. We have done this by getting out into the town itself and interacting with its people out on the streets, in the farm fields, and along the soccer pitch sidelines. We have had conversations with the mayor, council members, local pastor, community members in a town hall forum, and families in their homes.

fullsizeoutput_1417.jpeg

Unsurprisingly, we find that the people of Camp Marie are not too unlike ourselves!  They want not just to survive, but to thrive. They want a better life for their families and their children.  They want to build a stronger Haiti - the land of their passion. And they want not just to be in the ranks; they want to be at the helm of all that it takes to achieve their dreams.  They do not want a handout; they want a hand up. They know that the road is long and that it involves much: education and training, hard work and personal sacrifice, strong leadership, and a wholehearted trust and reliance on God.  In as much as we show a desire to work alongside them towards a mutual goal, they are eager to welcome us into their midst.

In our conversations with the Camp Marie community, we have, together, identified some key needs that emanate beyond the town to include the entire region and country:

  • Vocational training

  • Teamwork and leadership skills

  • A place for community activities

  • Disaster preparedness and shelter during times of disaster

Project Living Hope’s four key areas of job skills training, community development, athletics, and disaster preparedness will directly address the community's self-assessed, current needs.

Already, we have launched a youth sports program at Camp Marie to tackle the need for teamwork and leadership skills as well as Christlike mentors. We have also begun an English language training program, as English is a valuable skill for securing employment in Haiti.  These two programs already have grown widely popular, causing a demand for more coaches, adequate soccer fields, English teachers, and classrooms.

Project Living Hope has a vision to begin various vocational training programs in the coming years. There is a clearly defined need in the region for skills in culinary, masonry, welding, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and agriculture. Successful training in these skills will require both classrooms for the academic portion and also a kitchen and shop for hands-on practical application.

fullsizeoutput_141a.jpeg

Project Living Hope focuses not just on the individual’s success, but ultimately on the success of the community as a whole.  We dream of a place where people can come together and share ideas and common experiences. This can happen along a soccer field,  cheering on kids and neighbors; and under a roof, where seniors can visit and play cards, friends and families can gather for celebrations, and all generations can learn and share their knowledge.  Finally, in times of disaster, what better place to seek refuge than a structure specifically designed to serve the community?

After spending much time getting to know the community of Camp Marie and listening to their ideas and sharing our own, we are confident in the direction that God is leading us.  Having identified the existing needs, we have conceptualized and in some cases launched programs that we can develop to satisfy these. Now, we have drafted a building complex specifically designed to facilitate these programs and serve the community of Camp Marie.  

The King Center Phase One will be an enclave of buildings including:

  • A COMMUNITY HALL to host meetings/events and bring people together.

  • An EDUCATIONAL CENTER full of classrooms and including a large kitchen for culinary training.

  • A SHOP for hands-on vocational trade skills training.

  • A GUEST HOUSE to house mission teams, coaches, educators, trainers from outside the area, and our champions.

  • An outdoor SOCCER FIELD and BASKETBALL COURT, where teamwork building can occur.

  • Surrounding LAND, where agricultural skills can be honed.  

fullsizeoutput_1371.jpeg

Such a campus will permit our vision to materialize quickly as we gain momentum towards ultimately building The King Center Phase Two: a sports complex that will house so much more than sports.

We are excited to have the participation of the local Haitian community. Already, they are partnering in the excavating of an access road to our property. Our desire is to keep the Haitians involved throughout the process by providing employment and training while our buildings take shape.  At the same time, we strive to construct top-quality buildings that will withstand all the forces of nature. In order to achieve these two goals, we are partnering with MSAADA Architects and other local organizations that share our vision of empowering Haitians and can partner with us in the training and planning processes.

We believe God has a heart for the people of Haiti and a plan to give them a hope and a future.  We at Project Living Hope share His passion and want simply to be used by Him. We are humbled that He would elect to use us and permit us to grow in relationship with the people of Camp Marie as we work to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.  By His Spirit, Haiti can once again be transformed back into “La Perle des Antilles”, The Pearl of the Antilles.

fullsizeoutput_1405.jpeg

Soccer Ministry Makes An Impact

By Pierre Descieux

My name is Pierre Descieux and I am one of the board members for Project Living Hope.  I was raised in Haiti but moved to the U.S in my early teens.  I remember playing football (soccer) in the middle of the street where I grew up.  The street would be closed to traffic and all our neighbors, family and passersby would gather to watch.  Everyone would cheer for us kids for putting on a show.  We didn’t have a coach showing us the game, we didn’t have a referee, and our soccer ball was made from a balloon surrounded with rags and plastic.  We usually kept the real soccer ball for playing in the grass and dirt a few streets away.  Although my grandmother was not a football fan, she was always seated on the side of the street to watch the games.  Haitians are very passionate about the game of soccer.

Last January, I was able to participate in the weeklong soccer camp in Fonds Parisien with Guesly and the team from Oregon.  I was overwhelmed with personal feelings because it brought back so many memories. Our team had lots of soccer balls, jerseys, shoes, and other equipment. to distribute  The children and coaches were so happy that even the quiet ones couldn’t contain themselves.  From that day on I fully understand the impact PLH’s vision could bring to the children of Haiti.  

PLHJan2017add-011.jpg

During that week of camp, Guesly and I began making plans for our next camps in Fonds Parisien.  We wanted to come back as soon as possible because we had seen the importance of teaching the youth organized soccer, an opportunity neither of us had growing up playing in the street. But our plans were crushed midyear even as we were planning for our next trip.  Due to an unforeseen situation, we had to make new plans.  These two verses came to mind as we were looking and listening for God’s direction in the midst of our planning.  

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” Hebrew 13:20-21

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

In Fonds Parisien, I believe God was teaching us how to best serve a community; he was preparing us for what He had in store for us.  As an organization God taught us to rely solely on Him.  And God led us to a small community near St. Marc on the western coast.  There, in Camp Marie, we have truly seen how our presence will make the greatest impact.  We’ve also seen God’s hope in the eyes of the people in the community.  

In a few weeks, PLH will have our first soccer camp in two different communities in our new location.  The excitement is very high among kids and adults in the communities.  Just walking around the community, strangers were shaking our hands thanking us for thinking of them. In their eyes, they see us as Haitians coming to give back to their forgotten community. The youths are excited about the camp and were eager to show us their skills as we passed by.  We are looking forward to working in our new location and we are eager to share with you all how God is using all of us to further his kingdom.