A GFOP In Haiti On Hurricane Matthew

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This article originally appeared in the October 21st issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.  

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Shortly after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti earlier this month, killing more than 1,000 people, we received THIS Tweet from GFOP Lexi Oudman, a teacher who volunteers for South Dakota-based Mission Haiti in Ti Rivière. The image shows her village’s football pitch swallowed up by floodwaters. As we’ve said so many times before: In times of tragedy, football is the most important, least important part of life. It is a tenet reinforced by Lexi’s tale, which she so kindly penned for us below.  

Lexi Writes: Prior to Matthew, Ti Rivière’s soccer field was a gathering place for the community. People of all ages participated in and watched pickup games that kicked off underneath palm trees. A vast ocean on one side. A river on the other. Barefoot and seemingly unaware of the rocks under their feet, players tried to score between makeshift stick goalposts with a ball that wasn’t just under-inflated, but completely flat. When shots went astray, the younger spectators eagerly retrieved the ball, even if it meant jumping into the river. The games were often heated and always competitive.

Hurricane Matthew erased this daily ritual. The storm littered the field with additional rocks that make play impossible. And the river that lined the field now runs right through it. Palm trees lie broken and scattered across the pitch. Unfortunately, we can’t make the football pitch a priority right now. The focus is on alleviating hunger by distributing rice and beans to those in need. We’re also in the process of rebuilding homes and attempting to restore schools in the area. For more on Mission Haiti, you can click HERE.

Just days after the storm, I received a beautiful reminder that not even a hurricane could kill Haiti’s love of football. I was on a hike to assess damage when I saw a nine-year-old barefooted boy in front of the ruins of his house kicking around a coconut. Seeing him brought tears of joy and showed what a resilient people Haitians are. And that even in the face of tragedy, they are determined to restore some daily rituals.