Blog by BlazeSports intern Kit McCluskey.
When I decided to come to Georgia for my internship at BlazeSports, I had no idea what was in store for me. I have loved every minute of it and thought it couldn’t get much better. To my surprise it did. I learned that I was going to Haiti with the staff. I was in complete shock and so excited, because I have never been out of the country before.
The whole thing didn’t really hit me until we arrived off the plane in Port-au-Prince and we were greeted with a Haitian band playing music. The airport was small and the process of getting all our bags went smoothly. Unfortunately, the javelin never even left Atlanta. I was just grateful it wasn’t my bag.
We got to the bus and were ready to start our 3 hour ride to our hotel in Petite-Goave. I didn’t know much about Haiti besides the earthquake in 2010 so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I saw is practically indescribable. No matter what words I use, they wouldn’t come close to explain how much poverty there is in this country.
Besides the amount of poverty, the adventure of the bus ride is something I will never forget. There are no traffic laws or speed limits and people don’t look if another car is coming before they go out into traffic. The whole thing was complete chaos.
On Sunday, we took a boat from the hotel to a beach to play some futbol, volleyball, have lunch and enjoy the beautiful weather of Haiti. I have always seen pictures of the white sandy beaches with the clear water and palm trees but I have never actually seen it in person. It truly was picture perfect. For lunch there was a choice of fish or lobster. I decided to pass on lunch, because I don’t do seafood, but Jeff insisted that I try the lobster. To my surprise, it wasn’t that bad and I would have it again.
Monday and Tuesday it was time to work. The group who came to the training sessions consisted of about 50 people – a mix of physical education students, coaches and professionals who work with people with physical disabilities. Emphasis was really put on how they can take the knowledge we share with them and then apply it to their communities. They don’t have to be able to train them to be Paralympians, but teach them about the opportunities that they have through sport even if it’s a grass root program for recreational enjoyment. We gave them a basic overview of the variety of sports in the Paralympic Games and then broke out into sessions of soccer, sitting volleyball, boccia and field events. It was incredible to see all the participants so engaged, asking questions and wanting to make a difference in their country.
While I was playing pepper with some of them, I realized how sport is one of the few things in this world that’s universal. I don’t speak creole and they don’t speak English, but we were still enjoying ourselves because we had volleyball to bond over.
Even though I am hungry at the end of each day and I have bug bites all over my legs, I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to come on this trip. Its only day 4 and my perspective on life has changed in so many ways. I have learned that anyone who is willing can make a difference. You don’t have to start big to make a big impact.