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On the Lighter Side of Things

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Read this in the NY Times before Christmas and forgot to post. Nice to see foreigners and other unexpected folk  step up and help my people.

Gede Greg C.

December 23, 2009, 6:09 pm

Spreading Hope and Holiday Spirit in Haiti

By JACK BELL

write caption here.
New York Red Bulls Girls outside the water station built with money raised by the Sporting Chance Foundation in a section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The foundation was created by Red Bulls midfielder Seth Stammler.

Nothing is easy in Haiti.

As difficult economic times continue in the United States, it is often easy to forget that hard times are all most people know in the desperately poor Caribbean country of Haiti.

And when the Red Bulls midfielder Seth Stammler, a guy from Ohio, tagged along on a trip in 2006 with some proud sons of Haiti — the musician, rapper and producer Wyclef Jean; and two of Stammler’s teammates at the time, Jozy Altidore and Jerrod Laventure — what he saw was a continuous blur of privation.

“Wyclef performed with Shakira at the first Red Bulls game and he invited us all to go to Haiti with him,” said Stammler, the club’s longest-tenured player. “The off-season tends to linger so I invited myself on the trip. It was eye-opening. Pretty disturbing to see the lifestyle. I came back and tried to figure out what I could do.”

In a section of Port-au-Prince, the traveling party was stunned to see young children ferrying on their heads barely potable water home several times a day and hearing stories of families unable to afford the $60 annual tuition to send their children to school (most schools in Haiti are private and require tuition).

After consulting with his father, Gwynne Beatty of Trilogy International Partners and Gérald Oriol vice president of the Fondation J’Aime in Haiti, Stammler founded the Sporting Chance Foundation. The nonprofit foundation has so far raised $100,000 to provide 60 scholarships and build a water stations in Cité Plus, a section of the capital. Stammler and his fellow Maryland alum Jeremy Hall returned last week from their philanthropic inspection tour in Haiti, that included a spirited game at the L’Athletique d’Haiti academy built by the former political prisoner Robert Duvall.

Write secondcaption here.New York Red Bulls Red Bulls’ Seth Stammler and Jeremy Hall each played for opposing teams at a game played at the L’Athletique d’Haiti academy, which was built by the former political prisoner Robert Duvall. Stammler said it is one of only two soccer fields with lights in the entire country.

“I took two big travel bags of gear with me — old Red Bulls stuff and casual clothes — that we donated,” Stammler said. “After the game, as I was walking off the field, a kid asked me for my shorts! I’d have loved to give them to him, but I’m not walking of any field naked!”

“Little by little we hope to improve things,” Stammler said. “We could have done clothes distribution or soccer shoe collection. But I wanted something more long-term. If we improve the hydration system and give the kids, at least some, a chance to go to school it could make a huge difference. At home, we train hard and take soccer very seriously, but we have a lot of down time. As athletes we can make a difference because we have the public’s attention. I should be expected of us.”



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