“Football is the opera of the people” -Stafford Heginbotham
Finally, a happy affliction has struck Haiti: World Cup Fever. Since the tournament began last week, Haitians have something to celebrate and they’re doing it with unreserved joy. One and half million people are still living in camps or on the streets, 5 months after the devastating 7.0 magnitude struck Haiti in January. But soccer is bringing people together; cheerful shouting can be heard across Port-au-Prince when the games are broadcast three times each day at 6:30am, 9:30am, and 1:30pm.
Haitians are, by and large, supporting the Brazilian team. It’s hard to miss the thousands of yellow and green Brazilian flags decorating every corner of Port-au-Prince: hanging from the twisted balconies of fallen buildings, decorating cars and utility poles. Across a wide stretch of Port-au-Prince’s central road, Rue de Delmas, fans have gathered thousands of yellow and green plastic bottles and have strung them, criss-crossed, across Delmas like Christmas lights. The Haitian government has teamed up with groups like FimAid International to erect huge viewing screens in the refugee camps. For a little while, at least, displaced Haitians will have the World Cup games to share with each other as a distraction from the grind of daily life.
And in addition to soccer, there’s hockey. Grace Children’s Hospital, where the prototype C2C clinic will arrive on Tuesday, June 22nd, received a special visit several weeks ago from Canadian NHL player, George Laraque. Of Haitian descent, Laraque lifted the spirits of children awaiting treatment at Grace by bringing hockey sticks and playing a demonstration game. It’s wonderful to see that sports, even in the worst of circumstances, can bring a measure of joy to Haitians.
Across campus at Grace Children’s Hospital, workmen have begun land preparation for the C2C clinic. A cash-for-work program has hired 20 local people to level the land on the northwest corner of Grace’s campus, in anticipation of the delivery of C2C’s container clinic.
Stay tuned in the coming days for more progress on-site at Grace, the installation of the C2C clinic, and soccer dispatches from Haiti.