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Harnessing Haiti's Football Fever
As the world's most elite athletes vie for the World Cup title in South Africa, one professional soccer player brought fresh signs of hope to his fellow Haitians' still desperate situation for one weekend.
Piles of rubble fill the streets of Port-Au-Prince, and hundreds of thousands of families still live in tents as hurricane season rapidly approaches. In one tent city of about 15,000 people, aid workers are fighting an outbreak of typhoid. But for a few hours in late June, Haitian children learned soccer skills from one of their own.
(This story continues after the video.)
Born and raised in Haiti, Ricardo Pierre-Louis made the Haitian national team at 17; but getting there wasn't easy. His parents couldn't afford to give him the 25 cents needed to buy a soccer ball, so he would make balls out of blown-up condoms. Out of millions of Haitian children, he was one of 25 selected to play on the national youth team at 14. Now he wants to do something similar for the Port-au-Prince children living in tents.
"My distractions were my soccer and my education," Pierre-Louis said. "Imagine seeing someone get smashed in the earthquake. How do you take that as a kid?"
Pierre-Louis, 25, was brought back to his home country for the first time since the earthquake by an organization called OneHope, a ministry that tells Bible stories to children through booklets and movies. The ministry recently sent a small group from their Florida headquarters to lead the Port-au-Prince soccer clinics, with the intention that Haitian leaders would continue the clinics throughout the summer.
The situation in Haiti remains daunting. Approximately $10 billion worth of aid has been pledged to Haiti, but only 2 percent has been ...1