For four years, the Haitian Olympic committee (HOC) has been one of the principal actors for social progress and peace in Haiti, thanks to its National Program for Peace and Development through Sport.
Driven by the HOC, sport in Haiti has become a privileged vehicle to educate children about major social issues such as citizenship, HIV / AIDS prevention and environmental protection.
Before the earthquake in January 2010, the HOC was already working with children and young people in difficult circumstances in Cité Soleil, Ganthier, Fond Parisian, Mirebalais, Belladère, Trou du Nord, Ouanaminthe and Jacmel, through three complementary operations:
“Sport is the School of Life!” to integrate children in selected schools situated in the poorest communities. Afternoons are devoted to sports and educational activities to diffuse messages of civic education, public health and eco-friendly citizenship.
Summer camps called "Sport for Peace" which use school facilities during vacation periods for similar activities.
The Haitian-Dominican Friendship Games, intended to bring communities on both sides of the border closer by helping them to overcome their prejudices through this sports competition.
With financial support from its partners (UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, LMS/MSH, Peace and Sport, the Embassy of France, the Embassy of Brazil, the Embassy of Taiwan, and MINUSTAH), the HOC has assisted 50,000 children through its 3 programs.
Peace and Sport has helped the HOC to set up alliances with the Haitian political administration and intergovernmental organizations in the country to ensure the success and sustainability of the programs.
Using Sport to Help Rebuild Haiti
The devastating earthquake of 12 January dramatically changed the situation into Haiti. More than 100,000 children and teenagers from 8 - 20 years old now live in temporary survivor camps in Haiti. Often left to fend for themselves, they have lost family, friends, home and all familiar landmarks in the tragedy.
Faced with this situation, the HOC, strengthened by its long experience of being an exemplary actor for sport and social development in Haiti, quickly took the initiative to use sport to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of young survivors living in camps, often in very precarious conditions.
In this particularly destabilizing psychological context, sport is one of the main ways of helping these young people to overcome their traumatism, to restore a structured framework in their lives, to learn to live together in confidence and to rebuild their country on a peaceful, fair and sustainable basis founded on established rules.
As well as being fun and easy to implement, sport helps to foster resilience, self-confidence and increases psychosocial wellbeing.
It contributes to community life and motivates people to get involved in a shared objective. It consolidates team spirit and improves social relations by supporting communication between groups and individuals. It mobilizes volunteer participation and promotes active involvement in the community, while helping to build a secure and sustainable social structure.