I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

With the Help of a Soccer Ball and a T-Shirt - Moving on Towards a Brighter Future

We visited the tent-schools in the tent-city of Caradeux and helped the students (ages 8-12) move their school from 2 tents to a somewhat more legitimate place for a school - a semi-permanent structure with walls and windows. This move brought me great joy as I was able to witness the enthusiasm with which the children approached their schooling. Unlike students in many other parts of the world, the children of Haiti truly appreciate the opportunities that they are presented with. The students happily moved many chairs and tables from school to school in a shockingly short amount of time due to their excitement and anticipation to adequate facilities. Once in their new classrooms, the children sang songs with huge smiles on their faces. The teachers, who were equally enthusiastic, led the children in song and later rehearsed the alphabet and other such things.

In addition to the move, we brought with us a couple soccer balls, a pump, and four sets of t-shirts for the formation of soccer teams. The children became elated - far beyond what I expected - when they were informed that they would have the opportunity to one simple game of soccer, let alone a continual soccer program. This excitement was especially evident when we were actually playing the game. During the game, the "green team"scored the first goal, and instead of the "yellow team" becoming frustrated, they began cheering as well. All of the children who were not playing ran onto the field, as though the "green team" had just won a national football championship, hugged and high-fived all of the other children.

The students, regardless of what team they were on, or even whether or not they were playing, displayed pure joy throughout the game. Something as simple and easy to get as a ball or a t-shirt can have such a profound impact on the lives of those who have so little. It only makes sense for us to make a small effort, as it affects the children (and their parents in the tents nearby) so positively. One of children told me that the events of the day were the highlight of his week, and probably even longer than that.

While it may seem as though the children were all happy and thus messed around during the game, that was not at all the case. All of the children took the game very seriously, showcasing their enthusiasm and soccer skills. The man in charge of the school, who served as an interim referee during the game, followed the rules of the game to the letter of the law. Whenever the ball went out of bounds, he made sure that the children threw the ball in with the correct form, or when I eventually came into the game, he took someone off of the field so that the teams would be even (I felt pretty bad about that at first, but children were rotated in and out of the game, so it wasn't too bad).

At the end of the game, when we had to leave the camp, the referee insisted and asked that we wait an additional five minutes so that we would be able to take a photograph with the kids. He, along with all of the children, expressed huge amounts of gratitude and pride. I received countless hugs, handshakes, high-fives, and "thank you's" before we left. One younger kid, Kevin (more on him later) followed me to the car, his eyes and expression asking to take him with us.

Although this scene that has been described may seem pleasant and nice, it's important to remember the environment there. We were playing on concrete, not grass, among hundreds of tents in which people live. The few minutes that we played soccer allowed the children to forget about their woes, even if it was just temporary. The fact that the kids were even able to enjoy themselves illustrates the resilience of the Haitian people - despite living under repulsive conditions and having to deal with issues such as not having enough food to eat, they smiled and laughed and truly had a good time. It got me to think about how trivial many of our issues often are relative the problems that they experience. While we argue about who gets to play Xbox and for how long, they take what they can get and make the best out of their situation. I find that this has helped me put things in my life into perspective, and I feel as though it will allow me to become a more giving and selfless person.

Be sure to keep on checking the blog for more pictures and videos!

One Love.

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