Moving forward in Haiti

Haiti, July 11, 2010

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The last few days, the members of Mercy Corps’ youth program team in Haiti have been running around attending to details for Sunday’s launch of Moving Forward, a youth program that uses soccer and other sports to help young people recover physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally from the January earthquake. Moving Forward will reach over 1,500 young people throughout Haiti, and train 50 coaches and educators at 25 community organizations and schools.

Today, Mercy Corps is partnering with the Haitian government, the U.N., and several other organizations to hold an event at the national soccer stadium Stade Sylvio Cater in Port-au-Prince, celebrating youth, sports and Haitian culture on the day of the World Cup final and six months after the earthquake.

We’ll start the morning off with Moving Forward activities for hundreds of kids, and about 25 youth organizations. Kids will play soccer, kickball, Simon Says, and other games. Getting kids to laugh, play, and let go of stress is what Moving Forward is all about.

Then the World Cup final will be screened at 1:00pm – the general public is invited. For the last month the games have been screened here, with support from the U.N. and Haitian government. AOL News reporter Emily Troutman wrote a fun story about the screenings recently.

Then, in the evening, Mercy Corps with our local partner Cinema Under the Stars and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Civic Action, will bring an evening of remembrance of those lost in the earthquake, and also a celebration of what is possible for Haiti, given the spirit and creativity of its people. There will be performances by lots of Haitian musicians, Haitian comedian Kako, and short films, including those created specially by Sesame Street for Haiti’s kids.

After so much struggle here, it’s amazing to see kids laugh and play. It’s incredible to see people enjoying themselves with their friends and families. We’re hoping to bring a fun, inspiring day tomorrow to thousands of people, many of whom are coming from nearby encampments next to the National Palace, where thousands of tents line the Champs de Mars plaza. You can never forget that when it comes to moving forward, our basic needs as humans include not only for food and water and shelter, but also hope.