Wednesday, 29 May 2024

A Hard Day for Haiti

I had the opportunity to attend the Starlings USA Directors Convention in San Diego, where I taught coaches and leaders about the program for economically disadvantaged athletes. The convention focused on promoting the Haiti Street Project, which involves Haitian kids making bracelets by hand. It was inspiring to see the dedication and passion of everyone involved, and I believe that more RVAs and clubs should get involved in this initiative.

In the coming weeks, Byron Shewman from Starlings USA will be in Haiti, and his message resonates with all USA Volleyball leaders at every level. It is important that coaches, directors, parents, and players take the time to read his message, especially considering the anniversary of the event. Speaking of my own travels, I will be heading to the Dominican Republic to conduct a clinic that includes participants from neighboring nations and Haiti. Additionally, a State Department grant will bring 10 coaches from five different nations, including Haiti, to the United States for training at the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix this summer.

During the Starlings Convention, I had the privilege of meeting two remarkable individuals, Edeline and Isemene, pictured in this email. They embody the spirit of resilience and determination that characterizes the Haitian people. I am sharing their story to remind us all of the strength and courage that exists within Haiti, even in the face of adversity.

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Edeline’s devotion to her faith is awe-inspiring. I witnessed her deep in prayer, kneeling with her hand raised as Haitians do when they pray. Despite experiencing stress and emotion, she remained steadfast in her devotion. Later in the day, I saw her pacing outside, passionately sharing her thoughts. It struck me that she was recounting the events of a year ago, particularly the moment when a man with a crowbar broke through the rubble and yelled down into the debris, asking if anyone was alive.

Listening to Edeline’s story, I realized something I had never considered before. Alongside the unimaginable destruction, Haiti was plunged into complete darkness. Within hours, there was no light or electricity. The few flashlights and candles that were available provided minimal relief. The nights were filled with darkness, hindering movement and intensifying the cries of pain and terror.

Today was a difficult day for Edeline and her sister, Isemene. Sorrow etched itself onto Edeline’s face, while Isemene, being more introverted, carried her troubles silently. The evening ahead would be challenging. The radio stations they listen to provided some solace through messages of hope, encouraging songs, and readings of Biblical verses that drew parallels between Haiti’s struggles and the tribulations of Old Testament tribes in deserts. However, the sadness that Haiti has endured over its history, and especially what transpired a year ago, is unparalleled. Two hundred years of hardship have left Haiti as a center for orphans. Edeline’s prayers tonight, along with the millions of desperate pleas that fill the Haitian sky, are a testament to the resilience and hope of a nation.

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Byron