A river of sewage demarcates Cite Soliel from vacant land to its north; symbolic of the regard Haiti’s elites have for the people on the other side. Ostracized, isolated, and crime ridden, the area has been left to fend for itself. Part of Port Au Prince, Cite Soleil has a reputation of being the worst slum in the western hemisphere. Enter Boby Duval. Through his youth development program, L’Athlétique d’Haïti, Duval has brought hope to thousands of families, children and elderly in Cite Soleil. Since 1995, L’Athlétique d’Haïti has grown to provide sports training, nutrition, and medical and educational assistance to more than 2,000 children daily. For the majority of them the meal given at L’Athlétique d’Haïti is the only meal they’ll eat that day.
Says Duval, “they’re like the worst downtrodden people, really ostracized. You see kids that are 2 years old eating dirt, eating nothing, living in unsanitary conditions. It’s very heart wrenching. My heart always felt something for them.”
In Cite Soliel there’s nothing but praise for L’Athlétique d’Haïti.
Senior Man (photo above): “I’ve lived in Cite Soliel for 30 years. L’Athlétique d’Haïti is my heart. They do what other institutions don’t do. L’Athlétique d’Haïti trains young boys and girls and has contributed to the security of the whole area. The difference between children who go to L’Athlétique d’Haïti and those who don’t, is like night and day. Before there were kids who used to have guns in their hands – actual guns. Today the same kids, they have a book, they have a brochure, they have a way to talk that is completely different.”
Alex -19 (photo above): “L’Athlétique d’Haïti has been paying school for me since I was ten. Once I got to L’Athlétique d’Haïti it was clear to me the path of my life. Because of the program I am who I am today. This is my real school which has taught me what’s good and what’s bad.”
Mark Anthony (Alex’s father): “The real boss is Boby because he helps out with the kids, their schooling, food, sports, education. Sometimes he gives us money too. The majority of the people in Cite Soliel are talking about the work L’Athlétique d’Haïti does. A lot of them say Boby should put himself as candidate for president.”
Elisma’s Mother (photo above): “In the beginning I was afraid for my daughter because of fighting that went on outside. She’s the only daughter I have. Coach Sammy intervened and now she is no longer threatened. L’Athlétique d’Haïti helps a lot of young kids and helps us too. My daughter came home from school today and I have no food for her. At least I know she will be able to eat at the program. It breaks my heart not to be able to feed my kids.”
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