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.
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!
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.
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.