Soccer

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.

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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.  

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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. 

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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

MISSION EXPERIENCE UPDATES: SOCCER AND BASKETBALL TRAINING

In the midst of all the news about construction and the launching of our youth soccer program, we also had two teams visit Camp Marie to train soccer and basketball coaches.  Here is a brief synopsis of each trip.

Soccer

By Collin Box

January 2019

We started with seven of us driving to PDX in the pounding rain with 11 full-sized bags full of soccer equipment, not including our personal items. After nearly 24 hours, picking up other team members from Eugene, Colorado, and Kansas, we made it to our home for the next week just outside Camp Marie. The home was a hostel of sorts with 35 beds, of which our team took up 11, along with our driver, security and 10 Haitian coaches from Port-au-Prince who were there for the coaches training.

After catching up on some rest and settling in, we went to church in Montroius (pronounced Mowi) on Sunday morning. I had been to this church one year before, and as we sat on the hard wooden benches in the back of the concrete church building, Benedic, who I had met last year, opened the service.

After he said something in Kreyol, we began to sing. The highlight was a line from one of the songs - “Li Kapab” - He is able. The phrase stuck with me throughout the week.

After the service, we visited the Project Living Hope Property, had lunch, and then decided to head out to the field in Montrouis for a soccer game against the locals. This was by far the best American team I’ve played with down in Haiti, but the terrain still made it difficult. The game finished 3-0 in our favor.

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Our coaches training began the following morning and would continue through Friday. We had about 35 coaches at the training. In the morning, we met in a small church building right next to the road. Guesly brought a battery powered projector that allowed Aaron Lewis and myself to show some slides and video each day. We also were equipped with two 18”x24” white boards and a bag of mostly dried out markers. We had a classroom session assisted by several translators, and then spent part of our time on the basketball court across the street demonstrating drills. Intermixed with our coach education were some powerful devotionals and trainings on how to be a “coach de vie” - a life coach. The intention of Project Living Hope is to utilize soccer as a means to create community and make disciples. These trainings were provided by both Guesly and Thonny.

After lunch inside the church (which was getting pretty hot by that time), we had the coaches plan their session in small groups before heading over to the soccer field at the Project Living Hope property just down the road. We walked the mile down the newly completed road, side-by-side with the Haitian coaches as they offered us free Kreyol lessons. We also seemed to accumulate kids everywhere we walked. One of the days, I was walking towards a girl who must have been two years old as she announced over and over again, “Blanc! blanc! blanc! blanc!” (White, white, white, white!)

After school got out, the kids began to arrive. We had around 200 kids by the end of the week, who were divided into smaller group. The Haitian coaches took the lead as we gave a little advice and simply participated alongside. It is amazing how quickly relationships can happen with a ball at your feet.

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My biggest takeaways from the week:

  1. After coming for the first time to this community last year, it was incredible to see the amount of progress that has been made. One year ago we did our first coaches training in the area, had our first English classes, didn’t have a field to play on, and PLH did not have any staff living in the area. One year later, they have a soccer field, a road, weekly English classes for three different levels, four local staff coaches, two administrators, a land manager, a U23 league, and a youth soccer program. There are some great people on the board at PLH, but it is apparent to me that God is behind this and is very active in the community. The people are excited, and the culture is already changing.

  2. I was really impacted by the relationships we formed with the Haitian coaches and staff that we stayed with. I had met some of them before, but this time I felt like we really got to be with them and understand their way of life more than ever before.

  3. There was one night in particular where we were back at the house after a long day of soccer. After dinner, we had a devotional that Josh Noonkester led. Then one of the Haitian coaches spoke up and called out in front of everyone else, “Two of you are here who are not followers of Jesus. How can you claim to be a ‘life coach’ if you don’t know the One you are leading them to?” These two coaches then proceed to, in front of all 30 of us, tell everyone their reasons for not following Jesus and then both asked us to pray for them because they wanted to do so. It was a special night.

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Thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It was a blessing to go and play a small part in helping empower Haitians to build a better Haiti.

To read more about the soccer mission experience here is a blog post written by Ryan Botkin who served on the team.

Basketball

By Tyler Butenscheon

March 2019

Empowering Haitians to Build a Stronger Haiti is the heartbeat of PLH. I saw this in right before my eyes on a trip to Camp Marie, Haiti in March. Every morning trained coaches were taught, encouraged and then released to lead their own kids basketball camp in the afternoon. Can empowerment be effective with that short of a turnaround? The answer is a resounding yes. 

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We had dozens and dozens of coaches that came out each day to the community basketball court right in the center of town. At the end of our training we had 35 coaches receive a coaching certificate. These are the coaches that were with us every day. They listened, worked hard and implemented our skills and leadership principles. Beyond that we had dozens of more coaches and community members who came out to watch and learn about basketball and PLH for one or more of our training days.  

Because of the draw of our coaches camp there were a couple of great scrimmage games that we got to be part of. One was the American coaches verses the Haitian coaches. The Haitians loved seeing how they matched up with us. Their skills are still developing but their athleticism and tenacity are phenomenal. The other game was two local adult Haitian teams that squared off against one another. This second match brought people out from everywhere in Camp Marie. The sidelines were filled with people 3 deep trying to get eyes on the game as we simply provided referees and cheered them on. What a beautiful site it was to see how sport can bring a community together and build relationships. 

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Part of our training with the coaches each day was an opportunity to remind them just how important the afternoon would be as they coached and led the kids camp. Sure, we taught them some fundamentals of the game (dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, rebounding, etc). And yes, we coached them in how to run drills to help kids practice and develop those skills in fun ways. But beyond that, and more importantly, we emphasized over and over how these coaches weren’t just coaching kids in a sport but they had opportunities to coach kids in life. They had the opportunity to empower the next generation to be the leaders necessary to change the course of Haiti. They had a platform to show the love of God and share the gospel of Christ. 

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We were amazed each afternoon as the coaches stepped up and led the kids camp. All in all there were 80-100 kids throughout the week who were led by these newly trained coaches. The coaches were passionately engaged in their interactions with kids. They were nurturing in their approach. They were wonderful examples of sportsmanship and hard work. Ultimately, they were great examples of Jesus to their players. The highlight of the kids camp was when the coaches specifically paused to gather the kids and teach them about Jesus. It wasn’t forced or awkward. It was simply coaches who were empowered and passionate about their first love, Jesus, and sharing him unashamedly. It was a beautiful site to see.  

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Athletics is one of 4 main areas we focus our work at PLH. We say, "Lives of young people can be drastically changed for the good when they become involved in an excellent, Christ-centered sports program.” We saw truth that first hand. We witnessed relationships blossom. We saw confidence rise. We experienced the love God among people. Basketball was the bridge we used to aide these endeavors. As one coach put it after receiving his certificate, “Thank you. You changed my life."

To read more about the basketball mission experience here is a blog post written by Jacob Biviano who served on the team.

PLH Youth Soccer League Kicks Off

By Sara Dessieux

Organized sports for kids is not a thing in Haiti.  Yet here we are trying to launch a youth soccer program on a massive expanse of dirt up in the hills beyond the village of Camp Marie, Haiti.  Guesly has been participating in youth soccer programs in the states as an athlete and then as coach for more than thirty years. I’ve been a soccer mom for five years.  We know how youth soccer programs are run. And we know Haiti. Could we make the first happen in the second? I’ve referred to it as “the big experiment”.

Now Guesly apparently does not believe in starting small.  He said we’d run a program for 600 kids. We arrived back in Haiti on April 4 and we learned that only a few teams had been formed.  That sounded alright to me. Start small with a manageable number. But I guess coaches were just wanting to know that the league was actually going to happen.  One week later I was given a small stack of team rosters. The next day I received more as we photographed more than 200 kids. Then the next day I was given a few more and I took pictures of more kids.  This week I worked like crazy to organize team lists, pictures, and uniforms. Guesly worked on creating a game schedule for the 40 teams we now had registered and assembling goals and lining out five fields for different ages.  We met with the coaches and went to bed not knowing how the day would end up going.

On Saturday, April 20th our family was at the field at 7:00 AM.  Two of our employees were already there. Five games were set to start at 8:00 AM.  Well, games did not start on time but it seemed that in no time people were pouring in.  Coaches, players, referees and a bunch of kids and some adults just coming to see the excitement.  And then, yes, it felt chaotic on every level. But, games were played! Players looked awesome in their made-in-Haiti uniforms and coaches and referees took their roles seriously.  

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I spent most of the time in a shipping container we use for storage giving out soccer cleats for players to borrow so I did not get much chance to watch games or walk around.  But every time I looked around it was pretty incredible. So many people had walked the almost one mile up our road. Coaches had loaded up their entire teams into tap-taps to bring them from neighboring towns.  All for some organized soccer.

One man that we’ve known for many years came from his town a couple hours away to take part in the event.  I asked what he thought of it and made my comment about how I did not know why my husband needed to start so huge.  This man gushed about how no, no this is just as it should be. He said that it’s a movement. I’ve heard a number of people refer to it in this way.  And as he pointed to the hills around us he said, you’re going to see houses springing up all around here. People are going to want to be a part of this.  

Well, I personally hope we don’t lose the out-in-the-country feel we currently have, but I know they are probably right that this is going to be big and it’s impact is only going to keep growing.   It’s helpful to keep that in mind when we’re struggling through daily things like mounting bills, national fuel shortages, endless requests for jobs, roadblocks, lack of rainfall, dry wells, insufficient facilities and equipment, and car troubles.  Troubles such as these and way more are just a part of life for everyone here in Haiti. Life in Haiti is not going to get easier anytime soon but we do what we do because we to spark more hope despite the situation. We want to empower Haitian people to make their country stronger.  To use this new soccer league as an example, they benefited from our ability to fundraise among people who have money to give and our ability to purchase and transport equipment and supplies. They benefited from skilled volunteers who created level playing fields and others who trained people in their community to be skilled soccer coaches.  They benefited from our understanding of how sports leagues are organized and our computer skills. But then they were empowered. The Dessieux family were the only non-locals there. And in a couple weeks, they could probably do this without us. But we’re not leaving because this is only the beginning! There is more to come.

Construction: Mass Grading

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2018 PLH National Soccer League Championship Game

By Laura Nott

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Congratulations to our first-ever league champions, Fonds-Parisien! The team pulled out a win against Ti Goave in the championship match of the PLH National Christian Soccer League. After a 1-1 score, the game ended in a penalty shootout. A nice save and a missed shot clinched the win for Fonds-Parisien and the crowd rushed the field.

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Watching the game, I was reminded once again how beloved soccer is in this country and how great an opportunity sports are for reaching youth and training up leaders!

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As I listened to the committee members’ speeches during the award ceremony, they referred multiple times to the "movement". This league is not just about the game of soccer. It is about creating a movement. In this movement, we see communities coming together to support their youth. We see positive environments for play and growth. We see youth being trained up as servant leaders. And we see the gospel being shared.

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Before the event, the league coaches, committee, and PLH staff enjoyed a meal together to celebrate the close of a great season. Pictured above are the head coaches of Fonds-Parisien and Ti Goave.

Next month, we will hold our third annual soccer coaches clinic. This clinic includes training in Coerver coaching techniques and servant leadership. In April, we will launch our youth soccer league. We are so excited to see more and more people come together to join this movement and empower the Haitian youth to bring about a stronger Haiti.

We want to say thank you to Destiny Village and Steve and Lynn Petrosino for providing the league with practice socks for all 608 players! We have recruited coaches and the teams are starting to form. We can’t wait for the first games in April!

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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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!

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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.

January Mission Experience: Planting Seeds of Hope

Last month several people from Oregon served with us down in Camp Marie, Haiti.  They were involved with training coaches, running soccer camp, teaching English and building relationships.  Read reflections from three of them below.

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From Collin Box:

One moment that really stood out to me was the last night of our soccer programs in Camp Marie. One of the coaches called to me, "Coach!" I looked over and saw him extend his arm toward me, holding a freshly opened coconut, his machete in the other hand. 

As I shared fresh coconut juice with several of the other Haitian coaches on the sideline, I took a moment to observe the lopsided, gravel-covered field. Before the practice began I had spent several minutes pulling glass shards and rusty nails from the center of the field. But now, the field was bursting with joy. Each coach was working with their group, with nearly 200 players filling the pitch. One of the coaches was leading his group of girls in a song as they cheered on and waited their turn. Parents were watching on the sidelines. Even the mayor of the town made an appearance. 

I spoke with Benedict, one of the lead coaches from Camp Marie. He said to me, "You are the first group to come here and do something meaningful for our community. Other groups have come and taken from us, but you have helped bring our community together and are giving hope to the children.” 

 

From Arsinio Walker:

It was an exciting and very humbling experience… would do it again in a heartbeat! 

My Favorite Moment.

My Favorite Moment.

It was right after a scrimmage with some of the locals and I sat down on the field to take my shoes off. Josiah (Sara and Guesly’s son) was sitting with me at this moment. At first, a couple of kids came up to me asking questions in creole. I tried to explain that I don’t know the language, but then a kid who is bilingual started translating all the questions for me. One kid asked, “are you Haitian?” I chuckled a bit and explained that I was Jamaican…that I lived right next door. He replied “oh, you’re from Africa?” It was so cute and funny so I told him, yes we all are. After a while, a flock of children started coming around us out of curiosity. They all shouted their questions. Some asking if I’m professional soccer player, how many kids I have, what are my parents name, etc. I tried my best to answer each question, but my little Haitian translator had left. This particular experience humbled me in many ways. I realized the love these kids had for outsiders and how innocent and funny they can be. They treated us all equally; not depending on age, sex, or color. Through this experience, I can say that  I have hope for the future generation of Haiti.

 

From Julie Williams:

I attended a dessert banquet for PLH last fall.  At that event, the closing speaker said, Haiti will capture your heart – there is a place for you – so ask the Lord to guide you in what skills, talents or passions you have that might be helpful in Haiti.  Based on that prayer, an opportunity opened up for me to go to Haiti this January and help with the initial assessment and set up of English teaching classes in the town of Camp Marie.  The Lord was gracious to provide a fun and diversified team for me to partner with during our week in Haiti.  Some used their skills to teach and coach soccer and others worked with the English teaching.  We all felt a sense of unity in purpose and love for the people of Haiti.  

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Gerald from Haiti was my partner and translator in teaching the English Classes.  A highlight for me was the opportunity to work alongside this young man.  He proved to be quite proficient in English, very flexible and responsible.   Not knowing what to expect we began classes in the morning at the hotel where we were staying and then again in afternoon in a community school room in the town of Camp Marie.   Attendance and interest grew steadily as the week progressed.  Our English classes focused on simple vocabulary, conversations and games.   It was so fun working with these motivated students.    By the end of the week the students made it clear that they wanted the classes to continue.   They were delighted to find out that even though their American teachers had to leave, the classes could continue in Gerald’s capable hands.  

English skills help Haitians have more employment opportunities.  Project Living Hope seeks to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.   It is now my privilege to continue praying for the fruit of the English classes and to encourage Gerald as he continues the great beginning in Camp Marie.

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.  

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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.

 

Highlights from Our Haiti Trip

By Sara Dessieux

Life is such a whirlwind sometimes!  It's already been two weeks since my family and I returned from a two-week trip to Haiti.  It was a marvelous trip and we'd love to tell you all about it, but let me share a couple of the highlights:

SOCCER

We were able to attend two soccer games put on by Play It Forward.  Since we don’t have a soccer field at Haitian Christian Mission, all the games are held at Love a Child, a Christian organization down the road from the mission.  Calling it a field is quite a stretch.  With only a few patches of grass and a mix of dirt, sand and gravel, the ball bounces unpredictably when it lands. Unlike the grass fields we enjoy, the hard surface does not slow the ball.  The young players skid around on the rocks while we spectators cringe knowing injury or at least a torn up leg is a real possibility.  And yet, the athletes give it all they've got simply for the love of the game.  All ages come out to watch, standing all around the field.

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I know that Sarah Comstock, Guesly and I were all envisioning how awesome it will be when they play on a turf field.  A safer environment will not only improve players’ skills and increase participation, but also express how much Play It Forward values each life.  With your help, we will provide a soccer field for these hard-working athletes, and for the little children who were playing thumb wars and London Bridge with my kids on the sidelines.  

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JOB SKILL TRAINING

Sarah Comstock and I spent a couple hours talking with students in the Project Living Hope trade school.  The students are being trained in auto mechanics, culinary arts and artisanry.  We were touched by how serious some of the students are about their programs, and by how grateful they are to all of us (you!), who are making this training possible for them.    

For example, Roudine was in Philo (Haiti's 13th and final grade) last year but she didn't pass the national exam.  Her family cannot afford for her to repeat the year of school so she is studying on her own and hopes to pass next time.  The culinary class is giving her something else to work toward during this time.  If she can get a job as a cook, she wants to go to college to be a nurse or a teacher.   

In addition, Danul has long wanted to become an auto mechanic, but he never imagined he would learn the trade at the same time as he was completing his last two years of high school.  He appreciates his knowledgeable trade school teacher.  Sarah and I left our conversation with him determined to supply his class with more tools and more engines to work on.

Roudine and Danul represent a small sampling of the numerous inspiring stories being written through the trade school.  With your help, we will keep this education opportunity available, improve it every year, and secure additional classroom space.