Casscells-Hamby Volunteers in Haiti

Casscells-Hamby Volunteers in Haiti

Captain gives back abroad in Haiti (Photo courtesy of Meg Casscells-Hamby).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  – Harvard women's soccer rising senior captain Meg Casscells-Hamby has given her time to work with Coaches Across Continents, currently working with coaches and children in Haiti. Coaches Across Continents is a global leader in the sport for social impact movement.

The organization partners with local organizations to implement a 'Hat-Trick Initiative' that focuses on local social issues such as: female empowerment, including gender equity; conflict resolution, including social inclusion; health and wellness, including HIV behavior change; and other life skills.  

Below is a blog written by Casscells-Hamby after her first week in Haiti:

After my first week in Haiti, I don't think I could have asked for a more eye-opening, action packed, wonderful and of course fun experience.   Our schedule consisted of 4 hours in the morning from 8am to 12am with the coaches and visiting the four GOALS Haiti sites in the afternoon.  There are 5 important characters in my Haiti story. First is our gracious host, Jolinda. She always made sure we had enough food and mosquito coils.  Her hobbies this week included telling Hiroki to wipe the mosquito blood off her walls after he would maliciously hit them, learning not to hit the road bumps so fast we nearly fall off the back of the truck, and becoming particularly good at Ronaldo Skills for Life. She is the hero of our story. Her trusty companion, Jamison, was also a great help to us this week. We wouldn't have been able to blow up the air mattress without him. His favorite things include- well actually it was just one person. He and Hiroki developed a strong bromance the first night that held true throughout the week. The only bump in the road was when Jamison decided to turn Hirokis cold water into milk for no apparent reason. They have resolved their problem and continued their bromance- don't worry.  It would be impossible for me to describe Hiroki, AKA Jackie Chan according to every Haitian, in a couple sentences but his love of karate, soccer and of course rice and beans made him very popular. His battle against the mosquitos is to be continued, but in my opinion, they are winning. Nora was always proudly the loudest one wherever we went. Her voice could be heard throughout Haiti. RONALDO UN! She also has an impressive ability to learn and execute the Haitian dances and songs. Lastly, Sophie is the coach without a nationality. With her American and French passports as well as having lived for a while in Belgium, no one knows how to define her origin, but her brilliant French saved us with translation many times. As for me, I am just enjoying myself in a new country. I would have no chance for survival if it wasn't for the people who I lived with all week.

Working with the partner program GOALS Haiti was so much fun.  The coaches were engaged in the discussions, energetic and competitive during the games, always on time to training (thanks to Jolinda) and made me laugh everyday with their love of dancing and singing. They are a second year program, so staple games, such as Circle of Friends, were easily taught and always full of laughter.  At the beginning, the drills were ordinary such as high knees and high fives, but Circle of Friends quickly became a dance party where the main attraction was laughing at us trying to do their dances.  Over the course of the week, we taught the coaches many new games including games that educated the coaches on HIV, gender equity, health and wellness, skills for life, and conflict resolution. We also had a great discussion on Thursday about child protection.  As the week went on, the coaches were clearly becoming more confident and capable coaches, which will hopefully translate into their everyday lives. On Friday, we took a back seat and watched as the coaches took turns coaching back the games we had taught them. They were great and didn't need our help for anything that day.

Every afternoon, we would visit one of the GOALS sites where we would proudly watch the coaches use our games with their players. Many coaches even added their own flare to the games to make them their own. It was really cool to actually see the games making an impact on so many people. Hiroki and I got the opportunity to coach two girls' teams. It was fun to be able to run a short training session by ourselves, but I definitely have to commend Sophie and Nora for their ability to put four hour sessions together every day.

I can't believe a week has already passed since we got here. New things still excite and wow me every day. It is completely different here than I could have ever expected, but I have learned so much from the people here already. I hope I am able to provide them as much joy and laughs as they have provided me this entire week. I am sad we have to leave Leogane, but I am excited to coach the new program in Fond Des Blancs next week!