Creating Hope in one of Haiti's most dangerous neighborhoods
Pictured: Daniel Tillias, Founder and CEO of SAKALA and Merisena Cadeau, and a young girl who is the champion of Haiti in Chess
In neighborhoods like Cité Soleil, near the capital of Port-au-Prince, conditions for children are very dire. Gang warfare, overflowing sewage and protests mar the streets. Children are often unable to attend school or receive adequate food, water or medical care.
Yet it is in Cité Soleil where Daniel Tillias sees hope. Amid the chaos, the native of Cité Soleil offers a safe oasis for children struggling to survive. To him, change begins with them.
Tillias also launched a green initiative to replicate the community garden across Haiti, so Haitians can grow their own food. And he hopes the children of SAKALA, who are growing food and promoting peace, will be the ones to pull their families and the entire country from poverty.
"We could really have a new country that becomes the model for the world. And we know that it can start here," he said.
SAKALA is a youth empowerment program started by Pax Christi Ayiti in 2006. SAKALA blends sports with youth leadership, education, gardening, community development, and peace education in a safe environment to empower youth in underserved communities. The term SAKALA is both an acronym and a word in and of itself. As an acronym, it stands for “Sant Kominote Altènatif Ak Lapè” which translates from Creole to English into “The Community Center for Peace andl Alternatives”. As a word, it translates roughly to “Approved by the Community”. There are roughly 300 youth and young who directly benefit from SAKALA.
This year, we started our partnership with SAKALA HAITI to help sponsor 100 children with their personal businesses where each of them will have the opportunity to join the Mentoring Program and implement what they learn into action. Through this partnership, we hope to assist them in bigger projects and goals in the future that will really make a huge difference in their community.