Through the Hoop
Jan 27 14

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Austin is moving to Haiti!

by leah

Hi all!

It’s been a while since we’ve connected with you and we apologize for the delay. For the next several weeks (and hopefully even after that) you can expect to hear from us every Wednesday! Yep, you heard that correctly… Right here, every Wednesday!

Today we have some big news to announce… Austin is moving to Haiti!!!


Austin with some of the guys at a Hoops for Haiti basketball camp in June 2013.

Austin with some of the guys at a Hoops for Haiti basketball camp in June 2013.


This is really exciting for Hoops for Haiti, as it will again give us someone on the ground down in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. For the next year Austin will be working on building connections, setting up camps and tournaments, leading American “travel” teams when they come to visit, and just maintaining a general presence in Haiti for Hoops.

As if that isn’t exciting enough, Hoops is also working on developing a partnership with Haiti Hospital Appeal. HHA is based out of the UK and currently runs a hospital, children’s home, and emergency services in Cap-Haitien. With our new partnership, Austin will be donating some of his time to volunteering with HHA. He will be in charge of logistics and the sports complex coordinator. As part of this, Hoops for Haiti will now have our own basketball court and basketball facility to store equipment in at HHA.


A Hoops for Haiti basketball camp attendee goes for the lay-up at HHA (and H4H's new court).

A Hoops for Haiti basketball camp attendee goes for the layup on H4H’s court (at HHA).


Austin leaves this Thursday (1/30/14) from the Bloomington, Illinois airport at 7AM. If you’re around the area come give him a warm send off!! We would love to see all of your faces bright and early. We are planning to meet at 6AM at Central Illinois Regional Airport, so that Austin will have enough time to say goodbye to everyone and still get through security. Austin (along with Mark, Al, and Leah) will fly with Missionary Flights International from Fort Pierce, Florida to Cap-Haitien, Haiti on Friday, January 31st. We will be keeping you updated on our experiences throughout the week here on the blog as well as Twitter (@hoopsforhaiti) and Facebook!

Also, we will be posting an address where you can send stuff (letters, cards, words of wisdom) to Austin here on our website in the very near future.

Thank you for all you are doing for us. We appreciate all of the love and support and are very excited for the future of Hoops!


Oct 7 13

A notice to our donors

by MJA

First of all, thank you.  Hoops for Haiti is able to have a a tremendous impact on the lives of Haitians in no small part because of you.

We are often asked by our donors for pictures of the uniforms or equipment that they have donated.  It is only natural to want to see pictures of the kids enjoying the gifts that have been given.  Generally speaking, whether it is a donation of money, uniforms, basketballs or anything else, donors want to know (and see) the donees receiving the utility, or even better, the enjoyment of those gifts.  That is one of the joys of giving; watching others enjoy what we have given to them.

People from all over the United States and Canada have donated uniforms, shoes and basketball equipment so we can then give them to the kids (and adult basketball players) of Haiti.  It is our job, in a sense, to give these uniforms, shoes and equipment away to the basketball players of Haiti.  We are stewards of the uniforms and equipment.

I’ve written about the need for “Haitian Heroes” before.  Most community, school and church leaders want and support anything that can build up Haitian Heroes, instead of thinking that the Americans (or any other outsider) are the heroes, bringing in items to “save the day.”  So, Hoops for Haiti has partnered with local Heroes.

Because of this, we have not been able to take pictures of all of the uniforms and equipment that we’ve given away.  A lot of times, we give the equipment to the neighborhood or community leaders and then they give the uniforms and equipment away to the kids in the neighborhood.  This has backfired a couple of times when we later see adults – friends of the community leader and sometimes the community leaders themselves – wearing the uniforms out on the street.  But that has happened so few times that we continue to work this way in an effort to encourage and build up Haitian Heroes.


(One of the neighborhoods where uniforms were donated.)


(Uniforms were donated here, too.)

Please know that even if you don’t see your uniforms or equipment in pictures, they are being used for their intended purpose: bringing a message of hope and love through basketball. We will continue to take pictures when we can, because it’s great to see happy faces wearing cool uniforms.


Thank you for what you have done; it has allowed us to do what we have done.

Through Hoops!

Sep 24 13

New Storage Facility

by MJA

Hoops for Haiti has made some changes with our storage facility. The picture below is a full trailer of donated uniforms, shoes and equipment that we are moving from our Seneca storage facility to our new storage facility in Hudson, Illinois.


All new shipments (uniform and equipment donations) should be sent to:

Hoops for Haiti
14995 E. 2550 North Rd
Hudson, IL 61748

To ship the uniforms and equipment to Haiti, we need to raise some money. To donate financially, please visit this link:

Thank you to all of our donors.

Jun 4 13

Our work in Haiti?

by MJA

We’ve had a great week here in the Cap-Haitien area. The Travel Team flys back to the USA today and then to Central Illinois tomorrow. Over the next couple of days, I’ll update all that has gone on and accomplished this past week.

In the meantime, a friend of mine sent me a message and said that he found a video of our work here in Haiti and suggested that I work on my shot…take a look:

Basketball in Haiti?

May 29 13

Hard work and Fun – Day 2

by MJA

Today we continued to strengthen and build relationships in Cap-Haitien in 2 different locations. The first location, where we fixed two basketball hoops and reprinted the lines on the court, many people from the neighborhood worked side by side with us.



The second court we worked on was in the center of Cap-Haitien. The main court for the best players in town, we fixed the basketball hoops and put up new nets.



After a much-needed break and swim in a pool, we went to the UN Peacekeeper’s Day events. We’ll tell more of this in a different post


May 28 13

Preparation and Orientation-Day 1 in Haiti

by MJA

The Travel Team arrived in Cap-Haitien this morning.


They were locked out of the airport.


But have been moving fast ever since.


We visited a couple of courts where we’ll work tomorrow.


We had a great Haitian meal.


And now everyone is sleeping, getting ready for Day #2.

May 26 13

Travel Team to Help Strengthen Hoops for Haiti Partnerships in Haiti

by MJA

On Tuesday, May 28, we’ll be picking up a Hoops for Haiti Travel Team from the airport here in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. We are very excited to host and work with this team here in Haiti as we continue to develop and grow the Hoops for Haiti partnerships.

We’ve been very active, trying to create a sustainable organization here in Haiti and sometimes it seems like we have nothing to show for it. However, over the next several days, I’ll share with you what we’ve been working on, what is going on and what is yet to happen.

When we first arrived in Haiti, I had conversations with people from other organizations and they would tell me that it will take 2-3 years to get a program up and running, especially if we want it to be sustainable. Well, we’re now 10 months into our time here in Haiti and we believe that we have the beginnings of some exciting programs, partnerships and special relationships.

Please stay tuned to the blog as we will be updating daily for the next 12 days. In the meantime, here are a couple of our new partners that we’ll be working with, and spending a lot of time with, over the course of this week:

Haiti Hospital Appeal



We’ll tell more about each as we progress through the week with our Travel Team.

Feb 28 13

“Wood of the Low People”

by MJA

This was originally posted at

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.

Jan 10 13

Haiti Basketball Academy: Developing Haitian Heroes

by MJA

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.

Through Hoops!

Dec 15 12

Coaching the Coaches

by MJA

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.

(The coaches going through the drills)

 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.

Through Hoops!