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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Success is When Preparation Meets Opportunity!

Gary with his well deserved medal!

At H.E.R.O. our goal is to provide as many opportunities for our children to be successful in a variety of domains.  We are preparing our children to achieve at high levels in academics, athletics, social and emotional well being, art, and much more.  One of the difficulties of living in Haiti is knowing that sometimes preparation doesn’t result in success, simply because there are not many opportunities to use one’s talents.  For example, there are many young adults that have graduated college, and can’t find a job.  Another example is that last year the Track and Field Federation of Haiti had 0 tournaments in the country.  A third example is that this year, if H.E.R.O. hadn’t sponsored the only two tennis tournaments this far, there would not have been any created by the Haitian Tennis Federation.  Finally, there is only 1 chess tournament for kids during the whole year in Haiti.  My point is that at H.E.R.O. we have prepared our children in all of these domains, but often there just aren’t opportunities to display our talent.

Fortunately, this past week, we had the opportunity to participate in the annual Haitian National Scholastic Chess Championship.  And when our preparation met opportunity, we had outstanding success!  Gary, who has been with H.E.R.O. less than six months, and therefore has trained in chess for that length of time, won 3rd place in the Under 15 category!  We prepared, we were given an opportunity, and we were successful!  In fact, 4 of our children won 4 matches and lost only 1 match, but unfortunately fell just shy of placing in the tournament as well.  We are so proud that we were given the opportunity to succeed and put our talents on display.

But, the sad reality is that there is so little opportunity for children here in Haiti to shine.  So far, in the past 9 months, H.E.R.O. has sponsored 10 track and field events, 2 tennis tournaments, more than 6 small chess tournaments, and so much more!  We want to make sure that our children have the opportunity to use their preparation and be successful.  If you want to sponsor a chess, track and field, or tennis tournament in Haiti, please let me know!  Give the children of Haiti a chance to be successful!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

You Aren't Safe Anywhere

The media often portrays Haiti as one of the most violent countries in the world.  In actuality, however, Haiti has fewer violent and non-violent crimes than its Caribbean neighbors including both the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.  However, in today’s world, you aren’t safe anywhere.  Even in the United States, recent events dictate that it isn’t safe going to the movies, cheering on your friends at a marathon, or even going to school.  As the world becomes increasingly unsafe, one must be prudent, and take as many precautions as necessary to avoid violent crimes, whether it is in Haiti, the United States, or any other part of the world.

Just this past week there have been at least two deadly murders in Port-au-Prince.  Last week a Canadian Missionary had withdrawn $1000.00 from a local bank, only to be gunned down by someone on the back of a motorcycle.  The thieves/killers grabbed the Missionary’s backpack and took off.  It was such a waste, even more amplified by the fact that the money was in the man’s wallet, and lay untouched next to his dead body.  The thieves gained nothing, a man was dead, and nothing was better because of it.

A tragedy closer to home, in fact, less than 100 yards from the H.E.R.O. House, took place this past Saturday.  Our kids were involved in their weekly chess lessons, and around 4:00 we heard the distinct sound of 4 gunshots.  I don’t know if it is because he is used to these things, but our chess instructor, Haiti’s national chess champion, acted like nothing happened, didn’t even blink an eye, and continued as normal with the chess lessons!  I thought to myself, “Well, if he isn’t worried, then I’m not worried!”  Come to find out, that a judge was assassinated, in broad daylight, with plenty of witnesses and bystanders nearby.  I was shocked.

Thus, as we continue our journey here in Haiti, there are many rules one must follow to ensure the continuity of life.  This includes not going out after dark, unless absolutely necessary, making sure all gates and doors are locked, even during the day time, and not withdrawing money from banks unless it is a necessity.  Personally, I use ATMs located at various points around the city, always changing the location, day, and time that I withdraw funds.  Fortunately, there are ATMs in most grocery stores, at hotels, etc., so would-be thieves don’t know if I am shopping or withdrawing money.  Every precaution must be taken.

With all this being said, the lesson to take away from this is that our world has become a place where you have to lock your doors at night, arm yourself with guns, always leave 2 car lengths in front of you to prevent being kidnapped, etc.  It is unfortunate that it has become this way, but I urge you to not be blind.  You are not safe wherever you are.  All you can do is take every precautionary measure possible so that you don’t become a target.  And even then, you just never know.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

We had an amazing day at the beach yesterday! The H.E.R.O. kids and their friends enjoyed the warm water, great food, and good friends. We hope to see you there with us next time!