Above: Football in Haiti (Photo: GOALS)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, something stood out to Kona Shen.
Despite the rubble, despite the ruin, young Haitian children continued playing football.
Soon after, Shen founded GOALS, a project that seeks to help Haiti’s youth develop through their love of the game.
GOALS focuses on helping youth in Haiti’s Leogane organize to clean up trash and litter in public areas, plant trees and recycle old materials, along with encouraging gardening and providing a daily meal and drinking water for Haitian families, all borne out of a collective passion for football.
Last week, GOALS Haiti was named the Best New Project at the global Beyond Sport Summit, which was the brainchild of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“Being recognized on the international stage proves that GOALS’ work in Haiti has been an effective and important part of the recovery effort over the past two years,” Shen said. “It speaks volumes about the tremendous work of our local coaches in Leogane. It’s their dedication to improving the lives of their communities every day that makes our soccer programmes successful.”
The charitable organization, which is headquartered in Leogane, works with over 600 Haitian children each month, with an additional 4,400 people in Haiti supported through family outreach.
“These projects change lives and communities to an astonishing level,” said Nick Keller, the founder of Beyond Sport.