I couldn’t be more excited for GOALS Haiti’s first high school graduate from our Dream Team Scholarship Program, Olsen! This post is from our Executive Director, Jolinda Hackett (“Meet Olsen”). It has been a long, difficult, and extremely rewarding process over the last four years to help create the scholarship program, support the students, and do our best to set them up for success. I wish we were able to help more of the hundreds of kids in our programs who can’t afford school costs. If you can spare a donation, even just $5, please consider giving to the GOALS Scholastic Fund before school starts on Monday! We have a matching donor for your donations, so a $5 gift would get $10 to these hard-working kids in rural Haiti. Thank you!

I was still lying in bed last Saturday morning when there was a knock on my door. I got up, and there was Olsen, with a huge grin on his face. “Jolinda,” he said, “I passed!”

Less than 20% of Haitians ever have the chance to attend high school, and due to the low quality of education, less than half of those who enroll will pass their national state exams to receive their high school diploma. But that is not Olsen’s story. Olsen passed. Olsen graduated high school. And GOALS is incredibly proud of this remarkable young man. Of course, we’ve always been proud of Oslen.

Olsen comes from Darbonne,  a peri-urban area which saw an influx of tent communities spring up after the earthquake, further stressing the already limited resources and increasing instability and insecurity.Though he doesn’t like spending time at home, Olsen, a goalie, has flourished at GOALS. He demonstrates both his leadership skills and appreciation for his scholarship by being the first person to volunteer for special projects. This past year, his peers elected him Vice-President of the Dream Team, our school scholarship youth council, and he volunteered to help make sure younger children in his neighborhood made it safely to and from the soccer field.

As a testament to his efforts to better himself, Olsen always asks GOALS staff to speak English with him instead of Haitian Creole, and he’s the only student who wrote his scholarship application letter in English. Last year, Olsen was recognized by his school for having the second highest grades in his class, a true testament to the benefit a scholarship through the GOALS program – which supports holistic youth development academically, socially and nutritionally–  can have.

As a soccer player and a youth leader, Olsen has always said he’d like to work for GOALS after finishing his education. This summer, he couldn’t wait any longer, and decided to open up his own GOALS site, gathering children in his neighborhood to lead soccer activities during the school break.

All of us at GOALS are incredibly proud of Olsen, and if you’ve donated to our Dream Team school scholarship fund either this year or in past years, we invite you to share in that pride. Give yourself a pat on the back and feel good. Because we are. And you can bet Olsen is!

Every single one of our Dream Team scholarship students is just as dedicated and hard working as Olsen, and GOALS is committed to giving each of them the opportunity to graduate high school too. Sondy pulls all-nighters, even though he has no electricity at his house. Junia andSteevenson go to school even on days when they have nothing to eat. Bettina will walk several miles to school, even when the roads are muddy.

These kids deserve a chance to go to school to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Please consider making a donation to the GOALS Dream Team scholarship fund to support that hope for a better future for Haiti, and meet the rest of our incredible scholarship students here.

Olsen volunteering at a local orphanage