Opinion

Julia Lewandowski
Project coordinator of Ping Sans Frontières

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02/10/2017 par Julia Lewandowski

Developing a sustainable program promoting sports and education in Haiti

Haiti is a country with a strong history, while it is mostly known for being one of the poorest nations in the world; it is worth noticing that it was the first black led republic and the first independent Caribbean state in 1804. The past few years brought various natural disasters and left the population with a lot to rebuild and fewer resources every time. According to the UNICEF, around 80% of the Haitian population lives in extreme poverty. 

In January 2016, the founder of Ping Sans Frontières (a French NGO seeking to educate and promote civic and sports values through table tennis), Sarah HANFFOU, had the opportunity to ground mission in Haiti through the ITTF goodwill fund. Three main points stood out during this mission: 

– Despite having new infrastructures rebuilt thanks to international help after the 2010 earthquake, there is still a lack of infrastructures and human resources to manage table tennis programs in schools and clubs. Sport remains a privilege not accessible to everyone. 

– Outside of the capital, there is a very limited access to any type of service or leisure.

– The population is very young, in fact it is estimated that 54% of the Haitian population is under 18. 

From this analyze we could see that particularly in Haiti it is worth investing efforts and time towards youth and doing our best effort to provide a decent education and training for the upcoming generation. With so many tragedies hitting the country and so little resources coming from the government, it is clear that personal initiatives and working towards independence from the international help is the best kind of support one could offer to the people of Haiti. Focusing on young people in lack of social frame and leisure, guiding them away from undesirable social behavior is our vision for a lasting change for the better. 

During April 2016, Ronald MUGWANYA, ITTF expert and PSF member, went to the club Tornado des Cayes in order to conduct a level 1 Basic Certified Umpire course and also to celebrate the World Table Tennis Day. It was also the opportunity to make an assessment with our local partners to analyse what could be implement. 

Ping Sans Frontières had the opportunity to work once again together with the Haitian Federation of Table Tennis during the summer of 2017. After giving several training camps for table tennis instructors and for children the idea to develop a sustainable initiative became a necessity and together with local actors we began brainstorming about what we would later call the EducaSport project. 

EducaSport is an after school program that aims to offer academic support and sporting practice. Elaborated together between the NGO Ping Sans Frontières, the Club Tornado des 

Cayes and the Haitian Table Tennis Federation, it will first be implemented in the Southern part of the country, in the region of Les Cayes. Region in which the main resources used to be mostly linked to the agricultural activity, but after the passage of hurricane Matthew in October 2016, many were left homeless and unable to cultivate crops. To this date the region is still rebuilding and needs all the help it can get. 

The aim of the program is to create a virtuous cycle for the region through three main axes: 

– Table tennis practice, table tennis has proven to be an interesting sport for the development of children. A part from all the physical aptitudes that it develops this sport also provides a set of values such as fair play, self control and respect. Table tennis has a very interesting educational potential that is especially interesting when focusing on children who often lack a stable familial environment. Being a sport with a quick learning period, table tennis is also a great tool for developing self confidence and self worth for the children. 

– Homework support, after exchanging with a few families we came the conclusion that in many cases, families don’t have the time or even the ability to help their children with their school work. More than ever though we need a generation with a complete education in order to insufflate a new dynamic in a region that has been so devastated. Academic support provided by school teachers selected by the EducaSport members will enable the children of the program to achieve solid knowledge, thus giving them more opportunities for their future. 

– Providing work opportunities for the local community. The aim being to create a virtuous cycle for the local community as well as for the children, we decided to locally source the material needed for the EducaSport program as much as possible. Therefore we provided plans to local craftsmen for the construction of ping pong tables and paddles. As table tennis develops in the region (the national federation is also leading a program to implement table tennis practice in schools), we are hoping to create a new market for the trained craftsmen, providing an additional revenue source for them. 

The EducaSport project is now in its launching phase, during which trained table tennis instructors will be introducing the activities in 5 selected schools of the area. This phase will allow us to raise awareness and acceptance towards the program and selecting the children for our in-house activities starting in September 2018. After that we will work for a period of 2 years with the first promotion of children. Afterwards, we will evaluate the program and if our results are conclusive we will seek to replicate it in other parts of the Haitian Republic, allowing every time more children to develop through sport and education.

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