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A Hard Day for Haiti

Jan. 12, 2011, 4:12 a.m. (ET)

I missed the first power tourney to travel for work. I went to San Diego for two days to teach coaches and leaders at the Starlings USA Directors Convention. Starlings is a program for economically disadvantaged athletes. USAV and Starlings USA promote the Haiti Street Project, where Haitian kids make bracelets by hand. We would love to see more RVAs and clubs get involved. Go to www.haitistreet.org for more information on how your club can get involved. 

So I thought this e-mail from Byron Shewman of Starlings USA – who will be in Haiti next week – could be a message all USA Volleyball leaders at ALL levels. Coaches, directors, parents and players should read this today, given this week’s anniversary of the event. I will be traveling next month to the Dominican Republic to do a clinic, which will include their neighbor nations and Haitians. This summer, a State Department grant I am directing will bring 10 coaches from five different nations, including Haiti, to the United States for training at the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix.

This past weekend at the Starlings Convention, I took this picture of Edeline, speaking, and Isemene so you can see of whom Byron writes. There is also a picture of all the Starlings directors who made it – the others attended by webinar. Thanks for all you do to help grow the game beyond the court boundaries.

From: Byron Shewman
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:19 PM
Subject: A hard day for Haiti... and for Edeline

From left, Edeline, Isemene and Byron Shewman at the Starlings USA Directors Convention. John Kessel for USAV. 

Photo: John Kessel for USAV From left, Edeline, Isemene and Byron Shewman at the Starlings USA Directors Convention. 

Today I came home from an errand and quietly walked into the house. Yesterday, Edeline and Isemene had advised their English teacher that they would not be attending class today as they would spend it in prayer and contemplation of Haiti and their loved ones there. From the hallway I saw Edeline on her knees, her one hand slowly waving in the air as Haitians do when they pray, her voice in soft supplication to God. As what can happen with her, stress and emotion had triggered painful pulsations in her head but she continued praying.

Later in the afternoon, I saw her pacing outside, the small tape recorder held in one little hand while the other gesticulated. The bright winter shined on her cocoa skin. I listened from a distance. Now her words came in a strong, resolute tenor. She was recounting what happened a year ago today and, although in Creole, I caught her description of the moment when the man with the crowbar broke through the rubble above and yelled down into the mountain of debris, "Is anyone alive down there!"

Listening more, something struck me that I had never realized before. She was talking about the complete darkness that befell Haiti. Amidst all the unfathomable destruction, within a few hours there was no light, no electricity. There were a few flashlights (a flashlight is even a luxury for most Haitians) and candles here and there. But the ensuing nights passed without light, obstructing movement and any relief to the shrieks of pain and terror filling the blackness.

Today was a hard day. Sorrow never left Edeline's face trouble visited her sister's visage even though Isemene is much more introverted. It will be a hard night. The messages coming from Haitian radio stations that they listen to will bring small comfort: Words of hope, songs of encouragement, readings of Biblical verses to draw parallels with Haiti and the travails of Old Testament tribes in cruel deserts. Its' not the same. There is no sadness that can match that of Haiti's history, nor what happened a year ago today; 200 years of it. Left as the world's center of orphans. Would that God answers some of Edeline's requests today. And some of the millions of desperate pleas that will lift into the Haitian sky tonight.

Byron

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