Hello from Haiti!
GOALS has always believed in the power of football to change lives, and this year, our dedicated young athletes proved that even the biggest dreams can come true. Our first scholarship students graduated high school. Nine of our players joined Haiti’s national youth team. Twenty-three boys and girls are learning to read and write for the first time in our inaugural literacy program.
We’ve always believed that with a little help, youth and their communities will transform themselves. This year, we saw the incredible effects of this approach. For example, we nearly eliminated teen pregnancies amongst our participants – an extraordinary achievement. It’s remarkable proof that with confidence developed on the soccer field and increased access to health services, young people will make lasting positive changes.
This is what GOALS is all about: providing soccer and education opportunities which inspire youth to create a better future for themselves.
And the future is indeed brighter this year for our participants. Kids are learning to read and write, our mixed-gender teams are winning tournaments, proving that boys and girls can both do anything, and our coaches are going back to school to become even better role models for their teams and families.
But life in Haiti is never easy. Political instability, crime, disease, flooding and hurricanes are never far away. This year, a new mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya struck every single one of our staff and nearly all of our players. At GOALS, we know that complex problems can have simple community-based solutions. So, we rose to the challenge by creating new health partnerships and mobilizing our network of soccer coaches to transmit critical health messages about this previously unknown illness within their communities.
As GOALS looks forward to year five, we see that the accomplishments of this past year lay the foundation for even more amazing results to come. I came to Haiti to volunteer in the wake of a disaster, but the positive changes I see every single day reaffirm my belief that the better future we all dream of is eminent. It is both the hope and optimism of the Haitian youth, along with the progress I’ve seen during my three years with GOALS which inspires me daily.
Our long-term commitment to investing in communities is paying dividends already. And I can’t wait to see what’s next.
On behalf of GOALS staff, children, families and communities, thank you for your incredible support in 2014.