• Fè Chwa Ou – Make Your Choice

    Staff SDL Coach, Nora Dooley, details our second week with GOALS Haiti and the process of creating games with coaches in Year 3 of the Hat-Trick Initiative.

    January 29th, 2015. This last was an unprecedented week On-Field with CAC and third-year partner GOALS Haiti. As we all recently learned, week one was a beautiful success. But week two was the meat of sustainability. It was the keystone for the bridge of Self-Directed Learning and the culmination of three years of support between our two organizations.

    GOALS operates in four rural locations around Léogâne. At each site there are 3-4 coaches who train local youth of varying ages from the respective communities. After working with the group of coaches as a whole during the first week of training, this next week we would shift our focus from site to site. Four days, four sites, four different groups of coaches.

    In the mornings we met in the classroom. We gabbed away for a bit to break the ice and get the coaches talking about their lives. We learned more about who they are as individuals, what they love about their communities and their country, and gave them the opportunity to ask us anything about where we come from and where we travel with CAC. Take my word for it – these are some incredible people. The best anecdote from these conversations was when one of the female coaches, Nadège, brought up how we played a game during week one about traditional roles of men and women. Then she informed us that due to her going to school and not having as much time at home, her husband has begun to cook dinner. I wonder if he knows about #HeforShe…

    Then we transitioned into some of the issues they face in their communities. We asked them to tell us what makes them angry, what makes their blood boil, where do they want to see change. From time to time we threw in a fact about some of the issues they brought up, a statistic about the problem in Haiti, which added weight to the conversation but also sparked their curiosity about similar issues around the world. One such issue was family planning and they were faced with this contentious fact: “The typical Haitian woman will have five children in her lifetime. Because the Roman Catholic Church discourages birth control, birth control is not readily available. Less than 20% of married women use birth control, and abortion is illegal.”  Part of the following discussion saw one of the participants asking us about these problems in the States. We were so impressed, as we know religion is never an easy topic to dive into, especially when we are questioning traditions. But this is what we want. This is where change takes root. Asking questions, allowing curiosity to manifest and seeking alternative solutions to the same problem. This is what we call Self-Directed Learning.

    Once we had a ‘good’ list of problems we had the coaches select one for us to break down as a group. Two of the sites chose gender inequality, another site chose early pregnancy, and another chose lack of education. We worked through causes, effects, and potential solutions. Once we had a good handle of the big issue, the coaches were better prepared to create a brand new game to address the matter in question. Rather than invent a game to solve the massive problem of gender inequality, we can invent a game to teach children about one of the causes they came up with such as tradition, or a game to reveal one of the effects such as girls without a voice, or a game to find a solution such as making our own choices – “Fè chwa ou!” –  or even some combination of these factors. We can have 20 games about gender inequality… but we start simple.

    Then it was time for the coaches to go to work. Our team left them to come up with their new game that they would play with the youth at their regular practice time in the afternoon.

    The outcome was inspiring.

    We saw new games that show the effect of excluding girls from playing football, that prove boys and girls can play together and that an equal society will function more effectively. We saw games that embody messages about being a good leader and how that in the long run will help the larger issue of lacking education, as well as a great game about good choices we can make to avoid early pregnancy.

    They did it. The 16 GOALS coaches truly graduated from CAC’s Hat-Trick Initiative. They have taken ownership of the future of their small communities, and understand the potential that small change can have on their troubled but beautiful country. We will miss these coaches and we will miss Haiti, but leaving them has never felt so promising as it does now. And let’s be serious – we love this partnership way too much not to visit our good friends in Léogâne next year. The difference now will be that they will be doing the teaching.

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