Kickin' it Up in Haiti - My Family Travels
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Soccer is a beautiful sport. Why? It is known worldwide and anyone can play it. So when I decided what I should do on my recent trip to Haiti, I knew exactly what would bring joy and smiles to faces which have just been affected by the horrible earthquake.

Prior to my trip, I went on a reconnaissance mission all around my hometown looking for balls, pumps, needles, and miscellaneous equipment. After deflating all of the balls, I was able to take 20 in two suitcases.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

The second the kids saw what I had in my possession word had spread all across the Pwoje Espwa orphanage. The kids and I ran out into the field behind the housing compound where cows grazed and began to play. Their skills were amazing! They, with their bare feet, were passing the ball around me so fast I could barely keep up!  Even though I was the outsider, and not as good, they included me and there was sort of this sense of camaraderie. Even though we didn't speak the same language, soccer allowed us to communicate on a more basic level, so I was therefore able to understand everything.

I made sure to get the names of all the kids that first day who were interested in participating in a tournament I was going to hold later that week. I had about 70 kids signed up and ready to go when the day came. It was utter chaos. We had to separate them into equal teams, get fields set up, get names of all the kids on each team. Thankfully, a friend of mine, Sonson, spoke very good English and was able to help facilitate the process.

We played until it got dark. There were two older kid games and one for the younger kids. I was told that this was the first time in a while where that many kids were playing at one time. I planned to hold more games as the week went on.

Unfortunately, there was a tropical storm. It rained and rained. The fields turned to mud and were unusable. Kids kept on coming up to me eagerly asking when we could continue. It broke my heart to tell them that we probably wouldn’t, because it was supposed to rain until I left. I wondered how it could rain when we were enjoying ourselves so much.

That trip changed me as a person. I saw extreme poverty and hunger. Yet, in spite of all this, I saw smiles. Smiles that gave appreciation for the simple things in life, that we Americans have lost sight of. I know that my life has been changed for the better, and I hope that I have had an influence on theirs.


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