I’m Wilnis Joseph, I live in Cité Soleil with over 400,000 residents it’s the biggest slum in the Caribbean. My home is one of the areas where the poorest Haitians live. Marked with poor sewage, poor sanitation systems, few hospitals, and almost no schools. It’s also a dangerous place with lots of gang violence. The majority of the kids and youngsters in Cité Soleil don’t get any education.
I grew up with five siblings and my mom in a small room. My dad left the house when I was 11 years old. My oldest brothers had no choice other than to drop out of school. My mom alone couldn’t afford to send us all to school.
My savior was football. I loved to play football and I played all the time. I started playing with SAKALA and they helped pay for my primary school and a part of my high school. Two years before finishing high school, resources ran out and SAKALA was no longer able to pay for my tuition. Luckily there was work for me as a plumber and this way I earned some money to pay for my education. With the continuous support of my mom I completed high school.
Life might have been tough but look at me now! I participated in Amsterdam in the Favela Street Exchange program and I am the director of my own organization called METANOIA. My organization helps children in my community to achieve a better future. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. It’s like a dream for me. To see how far I have come in life.
I’m happy that I am able to encourage people in my neighborhood to stay away from gang violence and to keep a positive mindset.
We currently have nine volunteers at METANOIA from the area of Ti Ayiti in Cité Soleil. We are supporting around 130 children aged 10-14 years old. We use football to connect with the children. We provide them with civic education and connect them to school.
This year, 70 children out of the 128 METANOIA kids were able to go to school. 70 out of 128 is a good start but I think all of the children deserve to go to school. This means we have a goal for the upcoming year; to secure tuition fees for the 60 kids that are still not able to go to school.
Step by step we try to make Cité Soleil a better place. A place where all children can go to school.
Port au Prince, Haiti
Wilnis Joseph, 1990
Founder Metanoia Ti Ayiti