• CAC in the Mountains of Rural Haiti

    February 3, 2014. We had a great week working with Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs. First of all, Fond des Blancs is beautiful. It is surrounded by huge mountains, luscious green mango trees, blue skies and filled with smiling people.  It was a very different experience to work with a first year program, but it was really fun to see them embrace and enjoy our games and messages.  P1070564

    The coaches, of course, started out with a few good laughs when we introduced Circle of Friends on the first day. As the day went on, the coaches started to become increasingly competitive with the games and involved in the discussions afterwards.  Each day got better and by the end of the week, I could really see an improvement in the creativity in the way that they were solving the conflicts in the games we taught.  They were great in the discussions on the difference between cheating and making a mistake, the importance of being healthy, and ways to make safer sexual decisions. One thing that all the Fond des Blancs coaches really enjoyed was just playing a game of soccer. We ended the week playing a big 11 vs. 11 game with rocks as goal posts and no true out-of-bounds lines.  It was amazing to me that when someone did a handball or committed a foul there would be no discussion or conflict, even though throughout the week our games definitely caused some arguments. In the soccer game, the team that committed the fault would just give the other team the ball and the game would continue.

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    Sophie and I had a great time coaching, but Ricardo, our Community Impact Coach (CIC) from GOALS Haiti the week prior, was a super star. He was great at translating, teaching the games, and leading the discussions after the games. He was incredible at using self-directed learning as a coaching tool to make the new coaches think about solutions without giving them an answer.  He was a great help throughout the week.

    Outside of the training sessions, we had fun exploring Fond des Blancs. Sophie, Ricardo, and I were staying in a beautiful house with our host Molly, the general manager of Haiti Projects who is currently working with the Fond des Blancs girl’s soccer team. She was awesome. She always made sure we had enough food and water, and even gave us a tour of the Haiti Projects, which is an organization that employs women in order to make them self-sufficient and have easier access to health care, jobs, and education.  All of their employees send their children to school, when previously only about 17% could afford to do so.   Women also are reporting an average income increase of over 250% and earn on average 262% more than the national minimum wage. Clearly, it is an incredible organization that deserves a lot of credit for the impact they are making.  It is always great to see organizations that have similar goals to Coaches Across Continents be so successful.  Overall, it was a great week. Sophie, Ricardo and I had an awesome time coaching, sight-seeing, and learning with the exciting people of Fond Des Blancs!

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  • A Volunteer’s Experience in Haiti

    P1070495January 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.

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    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.

    IMG_4681Every 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!