BRAZIL: Four Teachers Return from Month-Long Sports Program in Haiti
(MissionNewswire) Last year, more than 3 million Haitian children returned to school with 200,000 of them educated in Salesian-run institutions. The country’s educational system is continuing to be rebuilt after the devastating January 2010 earthquake that destroyed 90 percent of schools and 60 percent of hospitals, killed thousands of people and left more than 350,000 injured. According to UNICEF, poverty continues to be a major barrier to progress in Haiti with more than 50 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.
Recently, four teachers from Brazil returned from an educational trip to Haiti as part of a Teachers Without Borders project. During four weeks in July, the teachers conducted daily sporting activities with close to 450 youth from Salesian schools and programs in the cities of Les Cayes and Fort-Liberté.
The teachers are part of RSE, the Network of Salesian Schools in Brazil, which is the largest Catholic teaching network on the South American continent and includes close to 5,000 teachers and 85,000 students at all levels. The project in Haiti focused on imparting sporting and academic skills for both Salesian students and local youth receiving social services from the Salesians.
Working with youth between 5 and 18 years of age, the initiative used sports to aid in the students’ overall development. Youth were taught soccer and volleyball, activities enjoyed throughout Brazil. In addition, students took part in recreational activities such as treasure hunts, educational games and various workshops.
Sports programs such as this teach valuable skills to youth both on and off the field. They offer unlimited opportunities for growth by simultaneously developing leadership, teamwork and social skills.
“Despite their simplicity and the lack of resources, the determination, commitment and sacrifice of the children will be the memory I take with me,” says Guilherme Brondi, one of the four teachers from Brazil who taught in Haiti.
The teachers brought with them all of the clothing and sports equipment necessary for the program. These materials were acquired with the help of several schools within the Salesian network in São Paolo, which held competitions and fundraising campaigns in an effort to make the project a success.
The playing conditions were not ideal. The field itself was the wrong shape and the ground was uneven making playing challenging. Some of the balls had been patched and often teams had to play wearing the same color shirts. Despite these disadvantages, the commitment of the players was unwavering.
“My eyes were filled with tears. The students’ determination playing in these conditions was by far the image that struck me most,” says Corjesus Costa, another of the four Brazilian teachers returning from Haiti. “To my eyes it was not just a game of soccer. For all their simplicity, it was the commitment of all those people to have the very best they could. This was why I had chosen to go to Haiti. I know the value of the instruments I possess – sport and education.”
Schools in Haiti fulfill an important socio-economic mission by providing a foundation of lifelong education for poor youth, teaching them valuable skills and trades to help them escape poverty and establish a sustainable livelihood.
UNICEF – Haiti
Salesian Missions – Haiti