When you imagine a soccer field, what do you see? Thick green grass, freshly painted lines, new goals with fresh nets? In Cite Soleil, that’s far from the reality – try a field of rocks, with rusted out goals and scattered cones for lines. It was a huge shift from everything I’ve ever seen, but for the kids there, it was just a soccer field, and they were having so much fun being able to play. I think that’s been the biggest thing I’ve been able to experience during my time here, despite all the destruction and struggle that you imagine, Haiti truly is a country of life, love, and beauty.
Working with the Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative has been an absolute pleasure. For a little insight, the program is intended to keep students in school, through local soccer programs. In order to enroll in their program, you need to be enrolled and attending a local school. The program then runs a collection of soccer and English classes for all of their students, as well as provided a full meal every day from Monday through Saturday. I’ve loved the opportunity to be able to be a part of this program, the kids are so welcoming and the staff makes a clear focus on connecting and caring for all of their students.
The Haitian Initiative is based in Cite Soleil, known as one of the largest “slums” in the world. But being down here, and being able to experience it, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The people are incredibly welcoming, the kids are joyous, and the sense of community amongst everyone we meet is incredible. To go to Cite Soleil is a humbling experience, you cannot see the strength, perseverance, and sense of hope that the people here have without being changed. Those residing in Cite Soleil are incredibly resilient, innovative, and hopeful, both in God, as well as the importance and power of education for their children. From the wharf, one can see countless children swimming among the waves, fisherman out at work, and an unparalleled view of Haiti’s coast. Cite Soleil truly lives up to its meaning, and in my eyes, is the “Sun City” it’s always looked to be.