Sophomore Cyrus Wilson traveled with his family for the very first time to Haiti to work at his aunt’s children’s center, JJ Hoops 4 Haiti, from June 30th to July 10th.
JJ Hoops 4 Haiti is a non-profit organization founded in March 2016, whose mission is to teach integrity and teamwork by playing basketball. This organization collects basketballs, basketball hoops, and uniforms/sneakers for the kids. The organization hopes to introduce the game in Haiti’s low-income areas, giving underprivileged children the opportunity to have fun and be a part of a team.
JJ Hoops 4 Haiti was the first camp Wilson worked at outside of the United States. However, Wilson has worked as a counselor at a sports camp called propower here in Olney, Maryland. Wilson says “From third grade up until seventh grade I use to go to [propower]”. During that seventh grade summer, Wilson says, “I started helping out during the camp…and I decided to be a counselor”. He adds “ especially since my younger brothers were also at the camp I like helping them”.
Wilson contributed to the effort by teaching children at the center, most of them between the ages of 5 and 12, about basketball and how to play. Wilson says “I like to help out with the kids because…they focus on having fun”. The center has had an impact on the community not only through their training in basketball, but by providing elementary level education since many are deprived quality education. Wilson adds “[I] tried to help them learn basic math and English.” Wilson volunteered at the camp from Sunday to Friday he says “The camp was from eight am to six pm and we would stay after to help clean up”.
Ever since the destructive earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, the country has had difficulties recovering with many of the fundamental damages persisting. Witnessing life in some of the impoverished areas of Haiti, Wilson says “The government isn’t active in the community, some of the roads are still unpaved, it’s really crowded, and the currency is all over the place”. Compared to the United States “Haiti isn’t as clean”, says Wilson “people there aren’t enforcing any laws and the policemen are corrupt”
There are numerous volunteer opportunities around the world that aid the less fortunate in many ways. Wilson explains that he found his trip and the experience working with the kids as important and impactful. Wilson adds “[the opportunity] really opened my eyes because sometimes we take for granted everything we have every day”. He hopes on doing similar work in other countries, most likely at a children’s center. He adds “ probably another country in the Caribbean like Jamaica”.