This was originally posted at http://mjaubry.com:
If you’ve ever wondered how you can directly help those in need in Haiti that will have a lasting impact, this story is for you. But, first some background.
A couple of days ago, I was made aware of a visit a colleague of mine made to a church/school in the desert of Haiti. Vilmer, who is a Dean at the school where I teach in Haiti, visited a village that he had never been to before. One of Vilmer’s classmates from school started a church/school in a place where most of us have only seen in a post-apacalyptic movie.
Bois d’Homme Bas (“Bwa dome ba”) is the name of this desert community. From what I’ve been told by my friend Stacey (I hope to visit this community soon), there is no direct English translation, but something like “Wood of the Low Humanity.” The people that live here have as a church/school a tent. Well, it’s more of a tarp…tied to a tree.
They get their water from a crack in the rocks. It drips from the rocks, the people take turns filling up one bowl at a time. And then passing the water to the next person in line. They do this for their drinking water, cooking water and cleaning water.
Basically, if you think of some of the worst places on earth to live, this might be in the top 10 (or the bottom 10, whichever is your perspective). But Vilmer’s friend, Ernst Pierre, has a school that is growing. But they need help.
There are 2 reasons for this post:
1. There are 162 students that go to school under this tarp. There were recently 22 students that were turned away because they could not pay the tuition for the school. The tuition for the Wood of the Low Humanity school? 200 Haitian Goudes. That is the equivalent of $4.70 US. Or, another way to look at it: for about $800 US per year, an entire village in Haiti can be educated.
2. What can I do as a business man to help them help themselves? Is there any way? This is one I’m going to struggle with for a long time. If you have any ideas, please email me. I’d like to know your thoughts.
If you would like to support the school of the “Wood of the Low Humanity,” follow this link:
If you donate, please send me an email (click here) and let me know that your donation to Hoops for Haiti is for the children of the “Wood of the Low Humanity” to go to school.
In this blog, I’m always looking for Abundance amid Scarcity. Can we give out of our abundance to help the “Low Humanity” to be educated? There are not many college graduates in the United States that made it through school without the help/support of someone else.
Full disclosure: In order to use PayPal, Hoops for Haiti pays a fee of about 4% of every transaction. With the exception of what goes to pay PayPal fees, I will make sure that every dollar that is donated to the children of the Wood of the Low Humanity will be received by the children of the Wood of the Low Humanity to make sure that they go to school and get an education.
We are very excited to announce that Hoops for Haiti will now be partnering with the Haiti Basketball Academy.
There is a great opportunity to use it as a tool for educating the youth of Haiti. Hoops for Haiti is working young Haitian leaders to develop an organization called the Haiti Basketball Academy (Akademi Baskétbòl Ayiti). Once this business is established, “The Academy” (“Akademi an”) will train and teach coaches and officials. This will be done so that those coaches and officials can, in turn, train the Haitian youth, using basketball as the main too.
You see, there is a “learned helplessness” in Haiti. That is, the actions of the people here (and the kids learn it as well) are such that it seems that many are saying, “we’ll just wait for people from America to come here and give us stuff.” However, most community, school and church leaders want to change this attitude and stop the dependency. Haiti needs to develop its own “Haitian Heroes” instead of the kids thinking that the Americans (or other outsiders) are the heroes, bringing in items to save the day.
So, we’ve begun partnering with four (4) soon-to-be Haitian Heroes; a couple of 30-somethings and a couple of 20-somethings. Two of them we’ve had a relationship with for some time. Two of them we’ve been impressed with after just meeting them in August and September of this year.
(Three of the leaders of the Haiti Basketball Academy)
There are a lot of opinions as to what is the best way to go about helping in countries with developing economies.The research that we subscribe to has shown that in order for an organization to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient, programs and businesses must be put into place and implemented WITH both the input AND desire of the local, indigenous people. The programs that fail in the developing economies are the ones where an outsider comes in and tells an indigenous group what they will give the local people, if they’ll just do exactly what the outsider is telling them. Personal experience has shown all of this to be true.
Basketball is very popular in Haiti. We had no idea how popular it was until Hoops for Haiti started leading camps and clinics several years ago. But, Hoops for Haiti will not ever be able to make the impact that a local organization can make.
There is a need for Haitian Heroes.
There is a need for creative, outside-the-box solutions in Haiti.
There is a need for the youth of Haiti to dream big.
The Haiti Basketball Academy will play a big part in dealing with the aforementioned issues and concerns. Hoops for Haiti will be one of the Academy’s biggest supporters and partners.
In future blog posts, Hoops for Haiti will begin to lay out how our organization will partner with the Haiti Basketball Academy. It is very exciting to partner with the Haiti Basketball Academy; an organization that will be run by Haitians who will be developing the future Heroes that Haiti so desperately needs.
Over the last couple of months, I have had the opportunity to lead five (5) different coaching clinics. From basic dribbling and passing drills to complex offensive patterns, we’ve covered all sorts of topics, drills and strategies.
Here are some of the topics, beyond the basics, that we discussed:- Why Jack Taylor will not be an NBA player - Man vs. Zone defenses - Baseline out of bounds plays - Offensive sets and plays - Motion Offense - Basketball Strategies and Tactics - Which player is the most important player (point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center) - and many more
For those coaches (and teachers) out there, you are fully aware of how difficult it is to teach new ideas and concepts to those who have never been exposed to them in a classroom-like setting. It is compounded when you are trying to teach those new ideas and concepts in one language while the “students” speak and understand a different language. Fortunately, we have an outstanding interpreter. His name is Junias Joseph. He spent about 9 years of his life in the US and Canada and he is crazy about the game of basketball (his favorite team is the Orlando Magic) and he has become a true friend to Hoops for Haiti, but more importantly, our family.
(A 12 pm start time means different things to different people. This group of coaches arrived for the 12 pm start. Another 15 coaches arrived within 30 minutes of the start time. They really did have a good time. Most Haitians refuse to smile for pictures. Junias is in the back row in the white shirt.)
Based on the philosophy: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I’ll remember; involve me and I’ll understand,” I decided to conduct the clinics in this vain. The coaches were very excited to be able to write down what they were learning, but in order for them to understand, we needed to go beyond a typical classroom-like setting.
First, we (me in English, then Junias in Creole) showed the drill or concept with a white board. Next, I would demonstrate on the court. Finally, the coaches went through the drill. Admittedly, this would not be a common practice in the United States, so in a culture that learns by rote memorization, the coaches were very reluctant, at first. After they understood what we were doing, it became very fun and it was just like they were kids going through a camp. Big smiles, lots a fun and, quite often, I had to shout, “ken be voye balon yo” (“hold the balls”), just like at a camp with kids.
Conducting these clinics was a huge step forward for our organization and the plans that we will continue to implement after the first of the year.
We still have big plans for Hoops for Haiti and what we are doing here. While I plan to provide more details this coming week, we are very excited about a couple of partnerships that Hoops for Haiti has been developing over the last couple of months. Both will look to further the mission of Hoops for Haiti and also look to develop a self-sustaining organization here in Haiti. I’m looking forward to working on both projects in the new year.
Mark! What is going on in Haiti? We haven’t heard from you. November is now over and we haven’t heard from you since the end of October. We hope you are doing well, but…what are you doing?
This is a question that seems to be coming up more and more. People know that my family and I are in Haiti and we’re doing good work and with basketball…right?
Yes, we are still in Haiti, doing good work and with basketball and other things. Over the next several days I am going to get you caught up on what’s been happening over the last 6 weeks. Then, either later in December or just after the first of the year, Hoops for Haiti will be making a couple of big announcements. We are very excited about what is being done/developed.
In the meantime, here is a picture from when AP and Jason were here in October:
We were able to go out to Pillatre a couple of days and play ball with the guys there. Pillatre is where we did our first camp. It was fun to see a lot of the guys. We shared some laughs, played some ball and had a good time. It was great to see the guys still wearing the uniforms that were given to them over the last couple of years.
Still catching up from Adam and Jason’s visit:
Adam Provance is very involved with the Rotary chapter where he lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA. In fact, one of his objectives for his trip to Haiti was to connect with the Cap-Haitien Rotary chapter. Adam is the 2013 President Elect for his chapter and he is looking for a project.
We made some great contacts at the meeting and we’ll be following up with those contacts over the next couple of weeks.
Adam has some great ideas with a joint Rotary project. They include working with Hoops for Haiti and the things that we’ve been working on here in Cap-Haitien for 2.5 months now.
If you do not know much about the Rotary, it is a very good service organization. Take a look at their website, especially Guiding Principles.
Trying to catch up from the week while Adam and Jason were visiting…
One of the places we visited was Kids Alive, an orphanage/group home and school. We were able to give a jersey to each of the students, give some shooting instructions and spend time with the kids during their recess. The kids were very quiet as we were first handing out the jerseys, but they came alive when we went out for recess.
AP and I are on our way home from Haiti. We arrived last night in the states and are on our last leg home this morning. The picture below was from last Friday as we anxiously awaited taking off on a DC-3 for Haiti. (a week later I look like I haven’t shaved for a week – although there’s still not much hair on the top of my head) It is hard to unpack everything we have experienced since that picture. A huge “Thank You” to Mark, Sarah, and the girls for their gracious hospitality. I think I had plans to bless them but in so many ways through the week they blessed me. They are the real deal; they’ve gone through so much to get established in Haiti. You can’t really understand or appreciate it until you actually go and see for yourself just how hard they’ve worked to survive, get things started, make connections in the community, and look to make an impact. And all of this in the first 8 weeks of being in a new country! Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers on a daily basis.
Even though we’ve only been in Haiti for 8 weeks, I’ve been able to make enough connections to schedule an exhibition basketball game with the local club team: The Titans. When I found out that the local club team was The Titans, I immediately became a fan. (For those who don’t know, the mascot for my college team is The Titans.) After meeting the coaches and going through a tryout (they had to see if I could play), I was able to schedule the game.
The game was supposed to start at 4 pm, but it didn’t get started until after 4:30 (this is a common occurrence in Haiti). We lost the game (they had 12 players, we had 6; and never mind that I’m old enough to be the age of their fathers) and we were really impressed with these 20-somethings’ ability to play the game of basketball. Below are a bunch of pictures from the game; here is a list of the names and numbers of the people on the Hoops for Haiti team.
Jason Sniff – #10
Adam Provance – #12
Junias Joseph – #14
Mark Aubry – #24
Rob Vande Lune – #30
Simon (a pre-game acquisition) – #50
Thank you to IWU Titans and Tony Robbins for the uniform donations. After we wash the IWU Titan uniforms, we will then donate them to the Cap-Haitien Titans.
Thank you to Sarah Aubry for capturing the images of the game.
Everyone was disappointed that Jason and Adam didn’t get here Thursday afternoon. But, since they arrived in Cap-Haitien late Friday morning, we been busy – both with fun and work.
Friday morning I led a coaching clinic at the only gymnasium in Cap. We originally scheduled the clinic for Friday morning because Jason and Adam would be there to help direct the clinic with me. However, since they were about 90 minutes away from Cap at 10 am when it started, i decided to still do the clinic.
At 10 am, there were only 3 of us in the gymnasium – and that included Junius (our friend and interpreter) and me. Over the next 30 minutes, 25 coaches filtered into the gymnasium. We showed them basic passing drills, fast break drills and different offensive strategies. Fortunately, the coaches were most interested with my two favorites: screens and backdoors. One of the things that I have learned through the years is that if you want someone to truly understand something, have them do that thing. So, when teaching basketball strategies and techniques to coaches, have them do those strategies. I had 25 Haitian coaches on the gymnasium floor setting screens and going back door. Everyone enjoyed that.
It was a challenge to communicate to the Haitian coaches because of the language barrier, but overall, we really enjoyed ourselves – the coaches, Junius and me.
We have another clinic set up for next weekend. 12 to 2 on Saturday (Samdi) and 12 to 2 on Sunday (Dimanch).
In the midst of our delay to Haiti, AP and I figured since we are in Florida, on a nice day, maybe we should work on our . . . . . game. After all, we do have a game tomorrow night. After picking up a few last minute items at Walmart, we hit the road to find a basketball court. Needless to say we worked out the rust. Three games of 1/1. Final scores were 11-4; 11-9; 15-7. I’ll let you decide who won.