After a half-hour flight from Port-au-Prince, we arrive in Cape Haitian City. Although this city was untouched by the earthquake, it appears to be full of despair. The tents and camps of Port-au-Prince are replaced with makeshift shacks, partially finished brick buildings, open sewage, and trash everywhere. On the short drive out of the city to the Cape Haitian Camp Shriver, located at the SOS Children’s Village, we transition into a Caribbean oasis, surrounded by palm trees, flowers and foliage. As we arrive, the children are divided into five sports activities: Football (soccer), Basketball, Dance, Table Tennis, and Bocce.
On the Soccer field, unified teams are busy doing calisthenics and drills. The coach facilitates a disciplined rigor among the athletes while giving instructions to improve the precision of the athletes’ techniques. Adjacent to the soccer field is the playground of the orphanage, where more than 75 curious children were watching the practice take place. I introduced myself and soon they were far more curious about the camera in my hand than the football drills. I began to wonder what we could do to offer Camp Shriver to all of these children.
Next, we visited the dance practice, where a group of athletes were rehearsing a well-organized routine. Their coordination and mastery of the music was impressive, and their joy and fun in the activity was evident from their faces.
At Basketball, the coaching focus was again very evident. The coach was on the court leading by example, guiding his players through drills and rehearsing various techniques. After the practice, I was challenged to a one on one match against the coach where I made a complete fool of myself! Everyone had a good laugh at the spectacle…except for me. I am still sore from the effort today!
Necessity breeds ingenuity in Haiti. At Bocce, I saw another great example of Jean’s [Chevalier Sanon] creole ingenuity. There are no bocce balls in Haiti so he made them by filling rubber balloons with sand and then wrapping them with tape. It worked. And there was good competition and fun!