Operation USA began working with the Port-au-Prince based NGO L’Athletique d’Haiti following the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean in the fall of 2008. The series of storms paired with a 50% rise in food costs exacerbated the already dire circumstance, leaving many impoverished Haitians without access to basic food and nutrition. Malnutrition was at crisis level for those most vulnerable, especially children.
L’Athletique d’Haiti (LADH) is an after-school sports program that serves children from ages 6 to 17 in Cité Soleil and Bel Air, the poorest slums in Port-au-Prince. In a country where soccer is a national obsession, the lack of sports programs deprives young people of the opportunity to acquire self esteem, discipline and dedication—the skills developed through playing sports. The program additionally offers a nutritious daily meal and transportation to its participants.
To address the increased demand created by the hurricanes, Operation USA contributed to the funding of a new cafeteria for the facility. Additionally, OpUSA provided LADH with a grant to support their food program which serves children from some of the most destitute areas of Port-au-Prince and surrounding provinces.
In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake, the needs grew…
The facilities at L’Athletique d’Haiti sustained some damage in the earthquake–however, a large number of the children and families the program supported suffered tremendously. Many of those who survived lost their homes.
The two soccer fields at LADH housed as many as 500 families, sheltered in self-made or donated tents. They were provided food and water, alongside medical care. Under the guidance of LADH’s inspiring founder Boby Duval, massive food distributions were undertaken for those living on site.
Operation USA is currently working with LADH to address both current and long-term needs. LADH has expanded its sports offerings beyond soccer—and now boxing, basketball and track are also offered. Engaging the kids in a safe environment, LADH continues to strive to keep the youth away from drugs and gangs in Cite Soleil. LADH continues to provide one meal a day to each child—and is in the process of adding an on-site organic garden, hen houses and compost program to be more sustainable and provide better support this effort.