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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Preparing For Our Children

Kervons showing off some soccer skills

Frankie showing off the stitched together ball

There is a lot of exciting news to share with all of you this week! I was successfully able to rent a house in Port-au-Prince! Located in the area of Delmas, the house is divided into 2 floors. The upstairs will be reserved for the on-site staff including the Director of Children. The down stairs will house 10 orphans and street children and also includes the kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and H.E.R.O. office. Children will begin living in the house the weekend of October 22nd.

I want to provide a deeper explanation of the purpose of our residence in Delmas. The reality is that there are currently thousands of street children and orphans in Haiti that do not live in conditions that are safe, secure, sanitary, or sufficient. As we make preparations to open our Residence for Street Children and Orphans in the province of Nippes, we must take steps to begin the process of properly documenting the children that will be in our care, provide appropriate medical services, and prepare the children for living in a structured and stable environment. As a result, the residence in Delmas is designed to provide many important services to our children prior to their arrival in Nippes. Furthermore, we will be able to provide housing, education, and rehabilitation for 10 children, a starting point in our efforts to serve as many street children and orphans in the most effective manner possible. As we transition our children from Delmas to Nippes, the residence in Delmas will take on additional roles. It will house volunteer groups, be our Port-au-Prince office, serve as our intake center for new orphans and children, and also act as a transition home for our older youth entering the workforce. We are working diligently to prepare this residence to be fully operational.

Unfortunately, last Friday Haiti suffered some more when an unexpected storm came through with gale force winds and massive rain. Five people were killed, more injured, and there was extensive damage to the tent and tarp cities that exist. Not nearly as devastating, two large trees fell in our new property on Delmas. We spent Saturday using machetes to clear the debris. I was also saddened to find out that at SOPUDEP, a school that was damaged by the earthquake but still usable, had the entire roof blown off. Rea Dol visited us at Delmas to break the news that the reopening of SOPUDEP School would be delayed for several weeks due to the numerous repairs that now have to be made. In Rea’s words, “There are still more problems in Haiti.”

H.E.R.O. is nearly half way to our goal of raising $100,000 in 100 days. I hope that you will join us to serve the country and people of Haiti. Even 25 dollars can make a tremendous impact in our efforts to aid the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti. Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, and contributions to H.E.R.O. In Haiti.


Steven Kirby

Bris and I clearing the debris

Relieving stress with a game of hoops.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Becoming an Auto Mechanic

I never knew that it would be so difficult to get a used car into perfect running condition. Lesson learned.

It all started 1 year and 3 months ago when Natacha Constant, the H.E.R.O. Vice President moved to Haiti. In June of 2009 she shipped her car from the United States to Haiti with the hope that the car would arrive in August of 2009 for the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. The car arrived in Port-au-Prince but was held up in customs for various reasons. After the earthquake in January 2010, Natacha moved back to the U.S. to seek employment. Unfortunately, the car had yet to clear customs in Haiti, and continued to sit on the docks. 3 weeks ago, 1 year and 3 months after Natacha sent the car, it finally cleared customs! Since Natacha is currently not in Haiti, she has graciously allowed me to use the car for H.E.R.O.’s benefit, a true blessing in a country that relies on transportation to accomplish almost any task.

The car was not treated well in customs. For more than 5 whole days I have spent time in various garage shops (this is an overstatement) fixing various parts of the car, including damage caused to it while it was in customs. Each day is filled with driving the car to a new garage, sitting for up to 8 hours watching and making sure repairs are appropriately made, and trying to find patience. There are positive aspects, however. I have learned how to say “spark plugs” in Kreyol, found the best place to buy a chicken patty in Port-au-Prince, and built some great relationships. The car is just about in tip-top shape. A few more days at the garage this week, and all will be done. I can’t thank Natacha enough for providing this vehicle for H.E.R.O.’s use, it truly is a blessing.


Steven Kirby

Friday, September 10, 2010

Presenting the H.E.R.O. Residence for Street Children and Orphans in Haiti

The H.E.R.O. Residence for Street Children and Orphans is designed to provide housing, education, and rehabilitation for 50 boys and girls in Haiti. We will use EcoShells constructed from locally available materials to create a development that includes four dormitories, kitchen and multi-purpose facilities, staff and guest houses, a sports activity field, and vegetable gardens. This Preliminary Site Plan developed by Jamie Schmidt brings us one step closer to turning our vision into reality. H.E.R.O. has set a $100,000 dollar fundraising goal to complete the construction of the H.E.R.O. Residence for Street Children and Orphans. We only have 3 months to raise this amount in order to begin construction. Our Grand Opening is scheduled for January 12th, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti. With your help, we will be able to equip the youth of Haiti with the skills and knowledge necessary to become healthy, educated, and productive citizens. We want to thank you in advance for your support and contribution in our efforts to serve the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Cousin The Tennis Player - Adapted From The Star Ledger

Brian Battistone walked over to the fence as a group of six children piled against the other side waiting for a picture.

Before they all got into frame, he asked them what they’d all secretly hoped he would. The reason they’d stuck around twenty minutes after his unseeded doubles team lost in straight sets.

“Should I get my racket?”


They were like he was just a few years ago. Their curiosity was apparent as their eyes followed the red-and-black racket with two handles and the man who learned how to utilize its unusual contour. They clamored to the center of the photo to grab hold of it.

They were like him because he was just as curious when he first heard about it back on a court in California. As a player trying to become ambidextrous with a single-handled racket, he was turned onto the design from a man who’s father made the original patent back in 1973, he also had it legalized by the International Tennis Federation.

Ever since, he’s been that guy with the two handles.

Battistone, who played with Ryler DeHeart, fell to Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, 3-6, 6-7.

“I like the idea of having reach on all sides,” Battistone, a 31-year-old from Las Vegas, said. “I like playing with two forehands. After a while it started making sense to me and I could visualize doing a lot of different things.”

The why, to him, is simple. With a two-handled racket, everything becomes easier. The swinging motion operates by the push-pull concept. The racket cuts through the wind faster as the front handle slices out in front of the back one, where his hand is.

The grips, he says, give him at least 30 different kinds of swings. Throughout a match, he plays with hands on each handle and both, when he plants his feet to deliver a two-handed forehand, or backhand.

Then there is its intended benefit. Lionel Burt, the inventor, created it in part to reduce tennis-related injuries. With more grip options, it took the body’s focus away from using one hand predominantly. It allowed players to evenly distribute the stress on both arms.

His training partner, Trent Aaron, said he learned to use it in less than two weeks.

“It’s like, I’d say a 10-day process,” Aaron said. "It’s a different contact point but after like three days with it added so much power, speed and reach.”

Rafael Nadal was curious, too. Ten minutes before Battistone came out for his match, the No. 1 player in the world began staring at it, asking questions. Before long, he’d picked it up and began swinging it around the locker room.

“He was grabbing at it and looking at it,” Battistone said. “He’d never seen it before. He’s a natural righthander and I told him he could play with two forehands, a lefty forehand and a righty forehand and he was laughing.”

It wasn’t always that way. Curiosity started with ire from the tour regulars who harangued Battistone and his brother, Dann, who began using them professionally a few years back.

It took time for them to see Battistone darting from baseline to baseline, flipping the racket from his left hand to his right, and then planting to fire a two-handed forehand.

“Some people, it honestly angers them,” Aaron said. “It’s been radically opposed. They literally think it’s the ugliest thing.”

And it all started because he was like the kids. Just wanted to see what that weird thing could do.

It was probably why, now 30 minutes after his match, he’d invited them onto the court to hit some balls with the racket. That, and the fact that he manufactures them now with his brother and the original inventor. He is a walking salesman.

He watched as they blasted shots all over the vacant court, playing with the racket he named “the natural.”

“It’s about adapting,” he said, “just trying out a new strategy.”