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Friday, December 7, 2012

Most Track Meets Ever!

I am proud to announce that this past week ADAH, the track and field organization I have started in Haiti, just held our 7th track meet of the year!  It was a school competition for athletes in the U13 and U15 categories!  Enjoy the photos!


Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The EcoShell is Standing!

This past week Dan Hildebrand from Hildebrand Construction joined us for another fun filled week of building an EcoShell on our land in Maniche.  The EcoShell, a 40ft. in diameter, 17ft. tall, round building will serve as the focal point of the H.E.R.O. Youth Development Center (YDC).  The YDC will eventually include housing for up to 24 orphans from all over Haiti and include many of the same programs that are now in operation at the H.E.R.O. House in Port-au-Prince.  I want to thank Dan, and his wife Sarah, for not only raising the necessary funds for building the EcoShell, but also donating their time to come to Haiti and construct the building!

Not only have we nearly finished the entire EcoShell, but we also started the construction of the perimeter wall for the property.  The unfortunate reality in Haiti, especially with regard to the safety and security of our children, is that we must build a 10 foot concrete wall to protect our kids.  During the construction we are employing more than 20 local Haitians for more than 3 weeks to complete the wall.  While our children will definitely have the chance to experience life outside the walls, when they attend a school in the community, for example, even in rural areas such as Maniche one must take every precaution.  The wall is expected to be completed before Christmas!

As we work diligently to finish the EcoShell and perimeter wall, I also like to think to the future of what lies ahead for the construction of the Youth Development Center.  Our plan consists of 4 additional buildings, but we must also build a septic system and water reservoir to store collected rain water.  I am so thankful for all of our supporters that have worked with us to not only provide for the 9 children currently in our care, but who know that we must do more to help the orphans of Haiti.  The completion of the YDC is the next step in this process, and we hope that you will join us in our mission to serve the children of Haiti!\

Sunday, November 18, 2012

First Tennis Tournament!

This Saturday Dayanna, Luckneau, and Woldjimy were all able to participate in an Under-10 tennis tournament held in downtown Port-au-Prince!  All of our kids have been training for the past 4 months, but this was the first time they were able to play against other children in Haiti on a competitive level!  All in all, our kids did great for their first time, Dayanna winning 2 matches, Woldjimy winning 1 match, and Luckneau, despite a great effort, losing both of his matches.  We look forward to participating in more tournaments next year!  Don’t forget, if you want to donate any tennis equipment, tennis balls, or shoes for the kids, please e-mail me at  Thank you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The School of Choice

It’s not every day in Haiti that you can walk into a 4th grade classroom and be overcome with young Haitian students asking a variety of questions in English!  But that’s exactly what is happening at the L’Ecole de Choix.  With Dr. Mary Clisbee as its principal, this school is doing amazing things in the town of Mirebalais, also notably, the location of the new Partners in Health teaching hospital.  L’Ecole de Choix’s purpose is to provide a holistic and quality education to help this generation of Haitian children become the leaders of tomorrow.  In just 2 years, they are doing a very impressive job.

Dr. Clisbee initially invited me to visit the school to discuss their new track and field team and interest in participating in the inter-school competitions being held by ADAH.  Dr. Clisbee is a former track coach and is willing to donate her talent to helping ADAH train our athletes in preparation for participation in the international CARIFTA held in March.  As a fellow educator, however, it was great to see the amazing programs being implemented, quality teachers at work, and smiling faces of students eagerly learning!  For more information about L’Ecole de Choix, visit their website at

The Main Campus 
Computer Lab
Dr. Clisbee and I, both NSU Alumni!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pockets of Excellence

This past Saturday was quite a busy one for the kids at the H.E.R.O. House.  On Saturday morning we were invited to participate in a table tennis training session held by the Haiti Table Tennis Association, the governing body for ping pong in Haiti.  Most of these sessions in the past have been provided for kids that have no experience playing.  For this reason, it came as a great surprise to the coaches and trainers of the Association that our kids were actually already pretty good!  As the session wrapped up we were offered the opportunity to bring our kids every Saturday, from 9:00-12:00 for training sessions.  We readily accepted! 

Immediately after the training session was finished, we hurried back to the H.E.R.O. House, ate lunch, and prepared ourselves for an in-house chess competition at 1:00!  Our chess instructor, who is the Haiti National Chess Champion, brought some other students he has been working with to compete against the H.E.R.O. kids.  Using these friendly matches, he was able to judge the level of our kids.  Despite the fact that he has been working with these kids for longer than the H.E.R.O. kids, Robenson, Billy, Dayanna, and Luckneau were all able to win a few matches!  We will continue to train every Saturday afternoon in preparation for the annual school-wide competition held in Haiti.

I am so excited to find these pockets of excellence in Haiti that are able to provide our children with such amazing opportunities to learn and apply knowledge.  We are currently the fortunate recipients of first class tennis, table tennis, and chess instruction.   Combined with our quality schooling and academic tutoring, the opportunities for our children to become successful are truly many.  Want to help?  Make a donation or sponsor a child at  With your help, we can continue to make a real difference in the life of orphans in Haiti.  


Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D

Monday, October 29, 2012

Running for our Lives!

For the past 5 months I have been part of a movement in Haiti to bring track and field back to a country that has an amazing history in this particular sport.  When you ask the majority of individuals why the largest stadium in Port-au-Prince is named Silvio Cator, you get responses such as, “He was a great soccer player”, or “I heard he died during construction of the stadium, so they named it after him.”  The truth is that Silvio Cator was a Haitian track and field athlete that won a silver medal in the 1928 Olympics!  To this date, his is the best performance of any Haitian athlete in the Olympics.  And what makes this story ridiculous is that in the stadium they built and named after him, they don’t even have a track! 

Notice the many feet without shoes!
In fact, Haiti has not held a national track and field competition in at least 3 years.  They had 0 representatives in the 2012 International CARIFTA youth games, and while there were 3 Haitian athletes that competed in the 2012 Olympics, none of them were actually born in Haiti!  As a result, many of the track and field clubs around Haiti had become defunct, children were not participating in competitions, and it was one less opportunity for the children of Haiti.  Thanks to the work we have done in the past 5 months, this has all changed!

The Best Track in Haiti!
In June, ADAH, or Association pour le Developpment L’Athletisme Haitien was formed with the express purpose of developing competitions for track and field athletes in Haiti ranging in age from 10-25 years old.  As the Vice President of ADAH I have had the pleasure of working alongside an extremely talented committee that includes both the Secretary General and Treasurer of the Haitian Track and Field Federation.  Together, over the past 5 months, we have held 4 separate track and field tournaments with more than 150 athletes participating, and this is just the beginning!  Our plans for the next 6 months are even more dynamic!

Starting in November we will hold both school and club competitions.  In fact, the school competitions will be held in two sessions as a result of the over 600 athletes that are expected to participate!  Over the next 5 months, these 600 athletes will compete in 6 tournaments.  Furthermore, we will continue to have one club tournament per month, December through March.  Based upon the first 4 club events, we have selected 10 athletes that will receive specialized training, and in January we will select 10 more athletes based upon the school competitions.  These 20 athletes will have the opportunity to earn their way to the 2013 CARIFTA tournament in the Bahamas!  ADAH has worked hard to not only create opportunities for youth to participate in track and field, but to participate and compete at an international level.

As ADAH continues to create quality programming, we are also in need of sponsors for our competitions, athletes, and equipment.  If you would like to help ADAH continue to create opportunities for youth in track and field, please e-mail me,  You can help ADAH return Haiti to track and field stardom.  Let’s make it happen!  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tennis: A Game Changer in Haiti

It may come as a surprise that in Haiti tennis is a very popular sport.  Unfortunately, as a result of the earthquake, hurricanes, and lack of economic development, many of the tournaments, courts, and youth programs that once existed are no longer functioning.  However, in a run-down suburb of Port-au-Prince only accessible by a decrepit road, there is something amazing happening.  It is the St. Louis Foundation for Tennis.
St. Louis Tennis Foundation!
Founded by Francky St. Louis, the St. Louis Tennis Foundation operates a 100% free tennis program for the underprivileged youth of Haiti.  On any given day you can witness more than 50 children between the ages of 4 and 18, practicing their tennis skills.  Haiti’s history with tennis is most evident at the St. Louis Foundation program, because it represents the reality of Haiti: the disparity between what is and what could be.  The program operates on a single court, smaller than regulation size that is visibly worn.  The balls used for practice are coming apart at the seams due to their repeated daily use.  The rackets often have no grips and the strings can definitely use changing.  Despite these obstacles, however, you will see some of the most talented tennis players in Haiti.

H.E.R.O. Tennis Team and Coach Frantz!
The children at H.E.R.O. began playing tennis during the past summer, and enjoyed it so much that we have continued our training during the school year as well.  This past Wednesday Francky and his foundation invited us to a morning practice session, which included drills, some practice matches, and most important, FUN!  Along with our tennis coach, Coach Frantz, I took six of our kids to the practice session.  It was a blast!  It was a great opportunity for our children to engage with other kids and to see what is possible in the tennis world when hard work and lots of effort is exerted.  After the morning session we returned to the H.E.R.O. House, only to get back on to the tennis court in our neighborhood for an afternoon tennis session! 
In addition to the tennis program, Francky also holds at least one tennis tournament per month for kids 10 and under.  On the 27th of October, Dayanna and Luckneau will have the opportunity to participate!  Tennis has been a wonderful tool for rehabilitating the kids at H.E.R.O., as it is a sport that improves health, requires mental and physical fortitude, and builds self-esteem.  If you would like to help the H.E.R.O. tennis program or the St. Louis Foundation by donating tennis rackets, string, bags, grips, etc. please e-mail me at  We want to give the children in these programs the best possible opportunity to take part in these quality tennis programs.  And if you ever come down to visit, make sure you bring your tennis racket and a pair of tennis shoes!  It will be a lot of fun!


Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Construction in Haiti is Difficult!

Hello! The construction story continues, and this short bit from Sarah shows just how difficult construction in Haiti can be! During this short time I slept in a wheelbarrow one night, and then on a sheet of plywood with a rock for a pillow the next night! Thankfully I had already done both before while living in Fiji, so I was prepared! Read this short excerpt below to see just what construction in Haiti can really be like!

The Inflated Airform!
The equipment broke again (and again and again) so instead of it taking 2-3 hours to inflate the balloon it took four days, a return trip to Port Au Prince, two trips to Les Cayes and about 30 hours under the balloon (sleeping at 3am, getting up at 6am) to get it to fully pressurized! There are many more details to this part of the journey, but suffice it to say, it was not a smooth or comfortable few days. Dan had the guys building window frames while he was away and the crew finished the scaffolding. When they returned, Steve slept outside so that no one would steal anything - he slept in a very small wheel barrow!  Dan said it’s amazing how the balloon fills up really slowly and then all of a sudden there it is like a huge drum!

The Entrance to the Airform!
The balloon held the pressure overnight, so after a couple of false starts they got the machines working and put mud (concrete) on the wall. However, when they were about 1/2 way round the rains came and washed it all off! And then the remainder of the concrete, sitting in the wheelbarrows for the next section of the dome, got stolen. 

Waiting to hear more from Dan.
The Beautiful Beaches of Haiti!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Construction Story Continued!

.... The Construction Story Continued!

Dan is slowly being able to enjoy the process rather than just being in survival mode, although says that seeing all of the poverty is incredibly exhausting. He said he went for a walk in to town yesterday evening and that the brightness of the stars was incredible, he said he really felt that he could reach up and touch them, that they really felt part of the landscape in a way that he’d not experienced before. Also he nearly stepped on the largest tarantula that he had ever seen - he said it looked like it was about to reach up and touch him!

I’m going to copy here the email I just from Dan.... (From Sarah)

“We got the airform attached tonight - it was quite a circus with the whole community getting involved. It's hard work moving the airform around. Anyway we'll hopefully get it sealed and inflated tomorrow morning. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the finished slab before we placed the airform on it. We went into town to continue the search for the illusive compressor. We found one but the guy wants $1,400 for it and it’s not a new machine and hasn't been new for 20 or 30 years. I'm not even sure it will do the job, but we're going to take the sprayer into town and test it there. Bear in mind going into town involves a kidney scrunching, neck dislocating, rib Rolfing one hour journey there and back reminiscent of the Dakar rally. The welder was doing his thing - there was enough power in the line he has strung up in the trees to finish the hold down levers, most of the time the power starts and stops.

When all 15 of us first moved the airform there was even more shouting than usual.  It took me a while to realize that they were trying to get my attention to look under the pallet. Yes it's a pallet, I thought, until I realized that they were pointing to the biggest spider I have seen. The one the other night was nothing compared to this gargantuan monster tarantula. It's one thing to see one in the zoo but quite another to see one next to where I sleep! It was bigger than an outstretched hand - it was absolutely humongous. Hopefully we can get the airform inflated, the compressor back here and working and I can start on the carpentry - always an interesting proposition in a place where you can't buy wood screws! Steve has a few odds and sods and I brought spade bits so hopefully I can make it work. It’s hard to explain but absolutely nothing here can be planned or scheduled it all sort of happens in its own time and way.

All twenty people who helped attach the airform were absolutely soaking wet with sweat when we were done (imagine doing incredibly hard and deeply claustrophobic work in a sauna with 600 lbs of plastic on your head) attaching the airform. Everyone walked down to the river and swam - it was really fantastic, the water was lovely and warm and all the kids were mucking about. I even managed to forget that whole communities wash, bathe and let their animals poop in it, upstream!!!! Right now I'm trying to get some sleep but it is probably in the high nineties and incredibly humid as always! But as always there is much to be thankful for- I can never have a bad hair day!

In town the relentless grind of standing around while people shout at each other for ages before you drive to another shop and stand around shouting at each other before being directed to drive thru a huge open air market to find a man who stands shouting in the back of the pick up directing you to his 'bodyshop' where you stand around shouting about the blatantly expensive fifty year old piece of crap that we sort of have to buy does get a bit wearing. Although I'm learning to relax and laugh at it in the way that Steve does."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

EcoShell Construction Begins in Haiti!

Hello H.E.R.O. Supporters!

This is the first of several posts that will detail the 3 week construction process during the month of September in Maniche!  Dan Hildebrand of Hildebrand Construction came down to begin the process of building an EcoShell for the H.E.R.O. Youth Development Center.  The EcoShell will be 40ft in diameter and 16ft tall.  Dan's wife, Sarah, was kind enough to post updates on the status of the construction during the entire time, so most of what you will read is written by her.  It was an absolutely amazing experience!  Construction in rural Haiti is like nothing else, and is definitely not for the faint of heart!  E-mail me if you have any questions!

Work started on the field. 

Dan spent the day in Les Cayes sorting out some equipment issues (the roll bender wasn’t working, etc).
The rocks were delivered today. Work continued on the field. Apparently everything gets put away at the end of every day (even the string) because otherwise someone will take it; this adds lots of extra work to the day. The craziness is starting to seem normal.

Steve found a compressor that will work and a small mixer (Which by the way, both of these broke and had to be repaired continuously the entire 3 weeks! SK). The ground was prepped (getting it level and above any flood line) ready for the form on Saturday. The combination of teaching the local workforce and the language issues are making everything a little slower.

The form was done. Ready to pour the concrete slab tomorrow. 

Some of the steel is in place, once finished the concrete slab can be poured. Still struggling to find a compressor and a decent generator but that shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise as it is impossible to even find wood screws or washers in this part of Haiti. The roll bender was fixed and it works on the pipe Dan took with him. 

Steve went to Port Au Prince to find a generator and a mixer. A good day today, things went smoothly. (I towed a generator on the back of a Ford Ranger for 7 hours over some of the craziest roads ever!  And mind you the generator was attached to the bumper of the vehicle with one chain, we didn’t have a tow bar or anything! SK)

The slab is almost poured so they’re just waiting for Steve to return from Port au Prince with the generator and mixer. Now they need to find some air hose and a compressor! It is slightly challenging to deal with the fact that any and every piece of equipment that you buy breaks the first day that you use it, but this is almost matched that the welder in town can seemingly fix everything with a piece of rebar and a hammer. Nothing really goes as planned but seems to happen anyway- just in a different time frame.
The build is a little behind schedule but the quality of the work is great. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back to School!

Hello Everyone!

It has been an absolutely incredible month in Haiti!  I spent 3 weeks at the H.E.R.O. property in Maniche, constructing the new H.E.R.O. Youth Development Center!  It was a truly exhilarating experience with many ups and downs, but overall it went very well!  We are not yet finished with the EcoShell, but we will continue working towards our goal of finishing it before the end of the year!  In the meantime here is a post wrapping up the past month, and I will be posting some updates from the construction process.  I will share with you our incredible experiences, from sleeping in wheel barrows, to driving backwards in Les Cayes!  For now, here is a brief update on all things H.E.R.O.!

H.E.R.O. now has 9 orphans in our care!  They are Franky, Gary, Billy, Robenson, Jude, Dayanna, Luckneau, Woldison, and Woldjimy!  Today is the first day of school in Haiti!  Michele spent her weekend helping all of the children prepare for this big day!  She helped organize their backpacks, wrap more than 100 books in protective plastic, and made sure each child had the necessary supplies!  The school day operates from 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM, and then after lunch and some daily tennis lessons, we have hired 2 teachers to provide tutoring from 2:00 PM-6:00 PM every weekday!

Our summer finally over, we have much to be thankful for at H.E.R.O.  Our children successfully participated in tailoring and culinary arts classes, excelled at their tennis lessons, and have grown by leaps and bounds academically!  Furthermore, the H.E.R.O. Annual Fund in July was able to raise over $27,000.00 for the continued operation of our programs!  We are thankful for all of our supporters who continue to help us provide for the neediest children in Haiti.  Thank you!  And now enjoy some photos from the building of the H.E.R.O. EcoShell in Haiti!       

Luckneau in Maniche!

Steven and Dan Getting Ready to Build!

The Airform!
Putting on the Concrete!

Some of the Neighborhood Kids

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Track and Field in Haiti: Major Progress!

As the Vice-President of ADAH (Association pour le Development de L'Athletisme Haitienne) it is my pleasure to share with you photos from our first track meet in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti!  Over 150 athletes aged 12-23 years old participated in a variety of events including the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, shot put, and long jump!  Our next track meet is in two weeks!  Be there!