Supesta participated in their first tournament in a few years. Only the players age 12 and under were allowed to participate in this tournament. Games were played every Saturday for four weeks. Some weeks we played two games in one Saturday afternoon. We ended with two losses and four ties, and were unfortunately eliminated early on. However, we told the players that they should not be disappointed, because they did not lose the majority of their games. We also continue to sit them down at the end of each game or practice and hand out a strip of paper with a bible verse on it, which we go over with them. Over Christmas break we took a break from soccer and are hoping to start back up in January. We told the kids this, but nonetheless, when I visited the school building one Saturday afternoon, there were about 12 boys waiting for the bus to take them to soccer. We let them play in the school yard for a bit and let them know that the team was on break. I am also happy to announce that an organization in the UK called Kits for Causes is sending 40 cleats and 40 pairs of shin guards for our players!
In October, Wyclef Jean did a concert at a hotel in the area. If you don't know, he is a Haitian American music artist who has supported quite a lot of education and development efforts in Haiti. We desparately wanted to get his attention but had trouble getting an inn. After soccer practice on the day of concert, we drove to the hotel where he would be playing, to try to get the guards' attention even more. They said he had not yet arrived, but would let any of his staff know that an entire soccer team had come to see him. We ended up sending our coach to the concert, finding a very cheap ticket, with several copies of the attached flyer. He actually got the chance to hand one directly to Wyclef as he passed through the crowd, but we never did hear from him. However, the verse we went over that day was:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7
And in Haitian Creole:
Mande, y'a ban nou. Chache, n'a jwenn. Frape, y'a louvri pou nou. - Matye 7:7
Thank you for your support! We couldn't do it without you!
Supesta has had a great summer! Although we have not received a ton of support through Global Giving, another donor sent in funds to cover our summer expenses, which include paying the coach, transportation two and from practice and games three days a week, snacks, water, and equipment. We have had 40 boys consistently practicing with us between the ages of 7 and 18. Four young men in their early twenties who have been members of the team throughout the years help the coach in running drills and exercises, as well as acting as referee during scrimmages. We divide them up into two groups as we obviously have a large age range. Some fights have broken out at practices, but all in all, this summer has been a great time of boys becoming friends and growing as a team. We have a talk at the end of each practice, which is one of the most important parts. We give life advice and often hand out a Bible verse to discuss for the day. We have given prizes to those who remember the verses, for those who have the best attendance at soccer practice, and for those who have the best discipline.
School starts on September 9th and this will cause us to only be able to have soccer practice, at most, once a week. Some kids go to school in the mornings, some in the afternoons, and others at night, so this makes it impossible for us to practice during the week. We haven't made solid plans for the school year yet but do hope to keep meeting once a week to keep the team together, and then pick things back up next summer.
Thank you for your support. Without it, we would not be able to do much soccer-wise with this awesome group.
We have big news to share about the progress of our ongoing efforts to best serve boys on the streets who have come from Haiti in "search of life". In an e-mail to our supporters on Dec. 15th, I wrote a letter to Santa with several requests. Here is a piece of this letter:
Santa, I know it’s a big thing, but we’ve been renting for years now. I really wish we could buy land for our two grassroots schools and for the boys’ home, and build proper facilities with proper classrooms, an administrative office, some recess space with some playground equipment, bookshelves, cubbies to hold bookbags, and a cafeteria space. For the boys’ home, a building that 12 can live in would be amazing – 2 residents per room, a kitchen, a common area, some yard space, and a nice fence to close it all in. We estimate a lot of this, (the boys' home), could be done for $15,000 US, which isn't much comparatively.
One of the conflicts with renting is the conflict we sometimes have with landlords. In the boys' home, for example, a fixed electric bill is paid to the landlord, along with each month's rent. The other month, he opened the door early in the morning and found the fan on and the radio lightly playing. These are the only appliances in the house that use electricity, along with two light bulbs. He didn't talk about raising the fixed electric bill, but just cut off the lights. This past summer in Muñoz, a trained coach with a program called Sports for Life led a calm and organized game in the yard outside of the school. The landlord's father came and chased everyone away with a machete, making rude and racist/nationalist comments, (he is Dominican and the coach and kids are Haitian). These are just a few examples of problems we run into with landlords, not to mention the fact that we can't really ever do building or painting projects since the property is not our own.
Alright Santa, I almost ripped this letter up and began a new one because I think I may be asking for more than you can give and maybe I should've asked for something else instead. But I didn't rip it up because I know you can do big things and we are meant to wish big. This other thing is something I have asked for every year since we began. It is something that, if given, would make not having the first thing - actual property and building - much easier to do without in the meantime... and it would actually be leading us to that.
Well, on Friday evening I got a phone call from my mom who was at a friend's house. She said she would pass me to one of her friends who has supported our work in the past, as she had some news to share. She put me on the phone and this woman let me know that her husband had sold his business and they decided to donate the $15,000 needed to build the home! So we will get started on the process of purchasing the land as soon as those funds come in, and then constructing!
Now, we still have not started the soccer team back up and we still have not raised enough funds to do so. But we will need to coordinate the soccer team with the opening of the house. Through the soccer team, we will be able to meet the boys who are on the streets now, get to know them, and see who would be good candidates to enter into the home. We don't yet have an exact time frame for this, mainly because we have not yet received the funds and have never built property or constructed, so it is hard to predict how long it will take. But it is very important that we have extra consistent funding prepared to run the soccer team and to provide the extra food and other needs of new boys entering into the home. Which leads me to the next paragraph in my letter to Santa:
I want more monthly sponsors. Oh how I have always longed to have that security that each month the money we need to pay the basic necessities would be there. It was in the beginning, but hasn't been since 2008. As a result, we are always late on rents, teacher payments, and lacking basic things. For example, we have never bought a roll of paper towels. We spent years without any canopeners, doing the old rock and knife trick. We have never yet invested in a sign other than anything hand painted...and normally don't do that. We get so wrapped up in investing in human hearts, minds, and empty bellies, that those sorts of things get pushed to the back burner.
We currently have 21 monthly sponsors who donate a total of $1,479.25 a month. This is all we can actually depend on. These genorous folks give an average of $70.44 per person, most through direct withdrawal, but some through check or paypal as well. But the basic necessities of the services we provide (schools, boys' home, caring for a two-year-old) totals $2,642.86 Then we have other efforts to house and engage volunteers and set up sustainable businesses. Some months, the cost of all of this (efforts to set up sustainable businesses) is covered, at least in part, by volunteer fees, art shop sales, etc., but many months it is not yet. We're still working on that. Anyway, the costs to run these things, (hostel, English immersion pre-school, fair trade art shop), is $1,553.88. Lastly, we have some administrative costs: internet, phone bills, transportation, and bank fees. These costs total $442.36 and 43% of that is for bank fees! If we could do one monthly wire rather than several wires and withdrawals each month, then the bank fees would dramatically decline, but we can only do one wire each month when all of the money is available at once, as would be the case if we had enough income from monthly sponsorships to cover our monthly costs. This all totals $4,639.10, $1,553.88 which sometimes covers itself. Again, we can only depend on $1,479.25 each month from our monthly sponsors, which is why we need more monthly sponsors.
Please consider helping us to bring in more consistent funding... as the kids we serve need to eat consistently! Thank you for your support!
I regret to inform that we still have not starting practicing regularly. I am hoping that after a fundraising trip to the US in November, we will be able to start in January. We have been short on long term volunteers to help run our other programs and therefore have not really had the staff to dedicate to this program. But this should also be changing around the month of January. So hopefully we will start up at that point.
During these past few months, I have been able to spend some more time meeting some of the younger boys on the streets - boys who were not around when we began working with this population in 2006. I met one who comes over each week from a town called Navarete which is about an hour away. I asked about his family. His mother lives in Navarete. I asked if she sends him over to Puerto Plata where he shines shoes, begs, and sleeps on the streets and in random places. He said no. I asked if she is happy that he comes. He said no. She does not want him to come. I encouraged him to then, not come. Because he is little and when you aren't under your mother or father or caregiver's wing, people can take advantage of you, influence you badly, etc. He should listen to her and stay home. Is she not able to feed him? He said that she is able to feed him. Does he not have neighbors to play with. He said that he does. Then stay home! What are you looking for? You're a little kid! He smiled and nodded to all of this. This is a common practice among Haitian male youth. And I have learned that with a boy on the street, you have to make sure that they are not being disobedient to parental figures before helping them..or else you are actually luring them from parents. Mothers stay absolutely heart broken over their young boys who love the streets.
Another boy who shoe shines is in a different situation. His mother is dead and his father is a boko, which is a voodoo priest. He does not like to be around the morbid and Satanic practices that go along with his dad's lifestyle and profession and does not live with his father. He makes quite an effort to earn money shining shoes. He is a great canditate to receive help through the soccer team. However, we would take much caution before entering him into our group home as he is already 15 or 16 years old. If he were to decide to disobey at some point, he is already large and would be hard for the responsible members to handle. This is why, when introducing new members, we normally introduce younger boys around age 12.
We recently created an online store to sell t-shirts and other items. One design is specific for supporting these boys on the streets. "Grapiyay" is a word that means a person who lives in the streets in Haitian Creole. Many Haitians use it in a derogatory manner, but boys on the streets often own it, calling each other this word and even sometime one's own self. Therefore, we have created this design to support these boys with the home, soccer team, and other classes such as the sewing class we recently began. Sewing is a skill that can provide quite steady income and many men actually do it.
Thank you very much for your support. Oct. 17th is a Global Giving Matching Day. If you donate on this day before the matching donations run out, your donation will be matched 30%. So this is a great time to give!
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