A couple of weeks ago, we traveled to Haiti with Empowering for Tomorrow as part of the organization’s mission to bring some love and hope to the kids of Cité Soleil with their “Christmas in October” initiative. The group teamed up with The Sanneh Foundation (Haitian Initiative) in hopes of bringing some hope to the youth currently enrolled in their educational and after-school soccer program.
Empowering for Tomorrow contracted Socially Loud to produce this first annual mission trip and make it the most impactful experience as possible. Founders of Empowering for Tomorrow Rosaire C. Olivier and Aglyau Olivier wanted to give back in their hometowns and thanks to sponsors, Simon’s Sportswear, Rosaire Quality Care, Make Haiti Fresh, rapper Haitian Fresh and Socially Loud, Empowering for Tomorrow had the opportunity to gift over 300 students with great quality sneakers, t-shirts, toys and hygiene products and a new computer room.
The trip started with a meeting at Marriott Hotel with Erik Briscoe of Sanneh Foundation who briefed us on the history of the foundation, the education program, the cost of sponsoring the children and some of the daily challenges which include wanting to enroll more children but the cost of things in Haiti is going up and they are in need of more donor to support the programs.
Sanneh Foundation: Haitian Initiative
Months after his successful soccer career ended, Tony Sanneh strolls the ruined streets of Port-au-Prince amid buildings reduced to rubble by a 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. He is there as an ambassador of the reigning MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy. Struck by the pain and helplessness in the eyes of the children, he was determined to bring help from his own organization, The Sanneh Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota and his mission, to empower children, improve lives and unite communities.
Today, the Haitian Initiative brings joy to the lives of 320 Haitian children. For three hours every day from Monday through Saturday, these children come to the HI complex in Cité Soleil for English class, soccer training and a special meal high in nutrients, which is often the only meal they receive all day.
Day one of our three day trip included a tour of Cité Soleil with Erik, the soccer coaches and some of the most enthusiast and welcoming children from the neighborhood. Also on the trip and tour was rapper Haitian Fresh, who was one of the many sponsors on the trip. Fresh not only assisted in teaching the afternoon english class, he spoke to the students about staying in school and promised to return throughout the year to visit them and their classrooms.
Cité Soleil is generally regarded as the poorest and most dangerous area in Haiti. The United Nations designates Cité Soleil as a Red Zone, that is, it is unsafe for anyone to visit. Water sources here are heavily contaminated with human and animal waste, combined with massive amounts of trash and debris.
While we had a safe and pleasant tour of the city, it was devastating to see the current devastations an poor living conditions of the area. The next couple of days, we not only had the opportunity to meet, connect and play with the kids from the foundation, the trip provided an opportunity for Empowering for Tomorrow to evaluate and build a potential partnership with The Haitian Initiative to continue supporting the children throughout the year.
For us we simply wanted to work with an organization locally that was already in place and working with the youth. Partnering with The Sanneh Foundation allowed us to do more then we anticipated and we are looking forward to partnering and growing with them in the near future says Rosaire C. Olivier founder of Empowering for Tomorrow.
Get a glimpse of what the Empowering for Tomorrow team experienced while we were there: