FIRST BLOG OF 2018: CONAN IN HAITI
February 3rd, 2018. First-Time on-field as new CAC staff, Pedro, writes about his experience working with GOALS Haiti during the ASK for Choice program in Leogane.
Before starting my first trip as staff member of CAC i didn’t know anything about my destination: Haiti. It’s hard to hear from Haiti being in Spain -after visit MUPANAH one can imagine the reason-so i didn’t know what I was going to find.
After a quick pass through Port au Prince we arrived in Leogane for work during the week with our partner in the city, GOALS Haiti.
Once in Haiti, and Leogane in particular, this place stopped being a stranger to me. I learned, in only five days and a half, about the importance of this city in the history of the country.
Some examples, it was in Leogane where the taino queen Anacaona raised up against the abuses of the Spanish invaders. Since then she represents the courage of the Haitian woman and her story has been immortalized in books, songs and is represented in a large statue that presides over the main square of Leogane.
Leogane is one of the sport’s capitols in the country. It is home to five major league sports teams -remember that it’s a city with 90.000 population-. And it’s also important because music festivals and vodou religion too (did you know vodou is a religion? I didn’t either!).
At the same time, I had the opportunity to visit the communities where GOALS Haiti is working. It was really impressive to see the large number of children participating in the sessions and how the community respected these moments. I have seen different trainings like this in many other countries and believe me, it’s not easy to get this picture.
Why am I telling all this? Because as the TV show “Conan in Haiti” -he’s in the country on the same days that we are – we want people to know that Haiti of course it’s not always the country it is portrayed to be – and you will know from the first moment you set foot there.
Being An Ally
February 5th 2016. Long-term volunteer, CJ Fritz, writes on his experience in Léogâne with four-year partner GOALS Haiti.
Last week in Leogane, Haiti, I helped run an ASK For Choice program for the first time. ASK For Choice is a CAC program dedicated to gender equity, and involves discussing the problem of gender inequity with groups of only women as well as mixed groups.
Heading to our Monday morning session with only the female participants I was nervous. When we got to the field I was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out how to go about coaching in this completely new scenario. As a male coach, how do I speak with a group of female coaches about gender equity? How can I pretend to understand the position that they are coming from? Would it be better if Nora and Emily just ran this session, and I sat out?
As I busied myself fretting about how to handle the situation I realized something; this isn’t about trying to be on the same team, it’s about trying to be an ally. We don’t need to share the same starting point if we are both aiming for the same finishing point.
As the week progressed I began to think more and more about why I want to be an ally.
I have a younger sister who entered high school back in September. She is intelligent, active, is incredibly funny and excels especially in keeping her older brothers’ egos in check.
I choose to be an ally because of her. It scares me to think that she might be told not to play the sport that she loves because sports are for boys. It scares me that she could make only 70 cents to every dollar that a man with the same job makes. And it scares me that she could be pressured into not doing the things that she loves to do because they aren’t “things that women should do.”
But what scares me more than anything is that there are millions of girls and women living in countries with far more inequity who deserve the same chance to achieve that which the boys and men around them are afforded.
As the week progressed, we heard some fantastic and inspiring things from the women with whom we were working. They were motivated and prepared to fight incredibly hard for their rights.
The women in the group gave me hope for change in Leogane, but we didn’t get the same fierce support of equity from the men in the group. It is a great start to have such a motivated group of women who are ready for change, but they can’t go it alone.
In congress, bills don’t become laws without people willing to work across party lines. Two improvising actors have to work together to make a scene flow. Men and women have to work together to bring us closer to gender equity.
By the end of the week, we began seeing some signs of progress. The men in the group seemed less defensive than they had at first, and the group began to come up with some ways they can start making change in the present.
If there is a rock you want moved and two people tie ropes around it and pull in opposite directions, no matter how hard either person pulls, or how badly they want the rock to move, it will not budge. It’s up to us to decide; are we going to pull in the same direction, or do we want to play tug-of-war forever?
Help A Community In Need This Christmas
December 12th 2015. This holiday season Coaches Across Continents is asking you to help youth in at-risk disadvantaged communities all over the world. Throughout December we have been counting down (or up) CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas which you can directly support by making a donation on Firstgiving. Your donations are incredibly important to ensure that children in these communities continue to get the opportunity to learn about vital social messages and have the ability to take ownership of their own choices.
Sentani, Indonesia, was the 7th CAC community of Christmas. Indonesia has many underserved populations living in remote regions where few international groups offer assistance. Make a donation on this Firstgiving page to directly assist these populations through our work.
Kathmandu, Nepal was the 1st CAC community of Christmas. Support Kathmandu on this page.
Diadema, Brazil was the 2nd CAC community of Christmas. Support Diadema on this page.
Shkoder, Albania was the 3rd CAC community of Christmas. Support Shkoder on this page.
Leogane, Haiti was the 4th CAC community of Christmas. Support Leogane on this page.
Nagpur, India was the 5th CAC community of Christmas. Support Nagpur on this page.
Stellenbosch, South Africa was the 6th CAC community of Christmas. Support Stellenbosch on this page.
Zanzibar, Tanzania was the 8th CAC community of Christmas. Support Zanzibar on this page.
Lubumbashi, DRC is the 9th CAC community of Christmas. Support Lubumbashi on this page.
Keep watching our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas this holiday season. Don’t forget as we approach the end of the US tax year that, as a registered non-profit, your donation to Coaches Across Continents is tax-deductible. Our EIN number is 32-0249174.
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.
Haiti’s Fields of Dreams
CAC volunteer Marissa Segala blogs about our first week with GOALS Haiti in 2015.
January 22nd 2015. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of city life in Port au Prince, we began our second week of training with a program called GOALS Haiti located in rural Léogâne. Each morning we piled in the back of the truck and ventured through the bumpy back roads surrounded by fields of sugarcane to the training site. “The field of dreams” as it came to be known, was made of dirt. It had little more than two pipes for each goal, and was the friendly host of an array of farm animals that would graze as we played. I know you’re thinking, “What’s dreamy about that?” And it’s a good question. It was a big rectangle outside just like any other soccer field, but it had cows and goats instead of lines and nets. The dream though, I realized was something that the GOALS coaches brought with them to the pitch each morning.
The coaches wanted to play. They wanted to learn, and work together to solve problems. We would talk in between, but it was evident that the learning and discussions were happening in the dirt, within the games. It was almost impossible not to want to jump in and play with this group. Beyond the impressive touch they each had on the ball, the talent and knowledge poured onto the field from their hearts and minds. It was especially inspiring for me, hearing the four female coaches contribute objectives and dreams of their own involving women in Haiti. On our ASK for Choice day, when we played games and talked about female empowerment, one coach by the name of Dyna spoke out about the ability and necessity for girls to set goals high and to achieve them with the support of the community. She shared how her older brother brought her to a field full of boys when she was young. With their support as well as her family and other adults, she was able to become the great player and coach she is today – a female. The best part is that with her initial dreams achieved, Dyna still comes back to the same field with new dreams for young girls and boys in Léogâne to reach higher and achieve more. She is there to support them.
As a part of the year three curriculum for CAC, the coaches work to create and adapt their own futbol games for social impact and empowerment. I am looking forward to next week, when we get to spend four days in the classroom helping coaches like Dyna develop their own unique games that will continue to fuel the field of dreams here in Léogâne.
A Volunteer’s Experience in Haiti
January 27, 2014. After my first week in Haiti, I don’t think I could have asked for a more eye-opening, action packed, wonderful and of course fun experience. Our schedule consisted of 4 hours in the morning from 8am to 12am with the coaches and visiting the four GOALS Haiti sites in the afternoon. There are 5 important characters in my Haiti story. First is our gracious host, Jolinda. She always made sure we had enough food and mosquito coils. Her hobbies this week included telling Hiroki to wipe the mosquito blood off her walls after he would maliciously hit them, learning not to hit the road bumps so fast we nearly fall off the back of the truck, and becoming particularly good at Ronaldo Skills for Life. She is the hero of our story. Her trusty companion, Jamison, was also a great help to us this week. We wouldn’t have been able to blow up the air mattress without him. His favorite things include- well actually it was just one person. He and Hiroki developed a strong bromance the first night that held true throughout the week. The only bump in the road was when Jamison decided to turn Hirokis cold water into milk for no apparent reason. They have resolved their problem and continued their bromance- don’t worry. It would be impossible for me to describe Hiroki, AKA Jackie Chan according to every Haitian, in a couple sentences but his love of karate, soccer and of course rice and beans made him very popular. His battle against the mosquitos is to be continued, but in my opinion, they are winning. Nora was always proudly the loudest one wherever we went. Her voice could be heard throughout Haiti. RONALDO UN! She also has an impressive ability to learn and execute the Haitian dances and songs. Lastly, Sophie is the coach without a nationality. With her American and French passports as well as having lived for a while in Belgium, no one knows how to define her origin, but her brilliant French saved us with translation many times. As for me, I am just enjoying myself in a new country. I would have no chance for survival if it wasn’t for the people who I lived with all week.
Working with the partner program GOALS Haiti was so much fun. The coaches were engaged in the discussions, energetic and competitive during the games, always on time to training (thanks to Jolinda) and made me laugh everyday with their love of dancing and singing. They are a second year program, so staple games, such as Circle of Friends, were easily taught and always full of laughter. At the beginning, the drills were ordinary such as high knees and high fives, but Circle of Friends quickly became a dance party where the main attraction was laughing at us trying to do their dances. Over the course of the week, we taught the coaches many new games including games that educated the coaches on HIV, gender equity, health and wellness, skills for life, and conflict resolution. We also had a great discussion on Thursday about child protection. As the week went on, the coaches were clearly becoming more confident and capable coaches, which will hopefully translate into their everyday lives. On Friday, we took a back seat and watched as the coaches took turns coaching back the games we had taught them. They were great and didn’t need our help for anything that day.
Every afternoon, we would visit one of the GOALS sites where we would proudly watch the coaches use our games with their players. Many coaches even added their own flare to the games to make them their own. It was really cool to actually see the games making an impact on so many people. Hiroki and I got the opportunity to coach 2 girls teams. It was fun to be able to run a short training session by ourselves, but I definitely have to commend Sophie and Nora for their ability to put 4 hour sessions together every day.
I can’t believe a week has already passed since we got here. New things still excite and wow me every day. It is completely different here than I could have ever expected, but I have learned so much from the people here already. I hope I am able to provide them as much joy and laughs as they have provided me this entire week. I am sad we have to leave Leogane, but I am excited to coach the new program in Fond Des Blancs next week!