Expanding Capacities for Peace in Cite Soleil
A collaborative project between Pax Christi USA & Pax Christi Port-au-Prince
“While information about fugitives taking control of the neighborhood and terrorizing the population intimidate NGOs from coming inside Cite Soleil, our on-going sports activities with the children have brought evidence to NGOs and governments of the needs of this neighborhood. They should rid their minds of the pretext of violence in Cite Soleil that enables them to forget about the people here in their relief and development activities.” ~Daniel Tillias, Program Director of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince
The roots of the people of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince exist in this very place of marginalization. For years, members have consciously placed themselves here, trying to contribute their ‘something more’ to the place where many of them grew up. Yet resources have been scarce and lasting partnerships have been few and far between given the heavy discrimination that has long branded the neighborhood.
Pax Christi Port-au-Prince’s project, SAKALA, blends sports, community building, and peace education in an effort to provide safe environments and empowerment for youth, women, and other community members. The term SAKALA is both an acronym and a word in and of itself. As an acronym, it stands for “Sant Kominote Altenatif Ak Lape” which translates from Creole to English into “The Community Center for Peaceful Alternatives”. As a word, it translates roughly to “We will find our way together.”
For a great introduction to SAKALA, Pax Christi USA and Pax Christi Port-au-Prince have produced a 22 minute film, Cite Soleil: Sun, Dust and Hope. You can click here for information on ordering the DVD. (Click below to watch a short preview of the film.)
Currently the program has established:
- four soccer teams that partake in practices and tournaments to provide recreation and a methodology to disseminate peace messages throughout the city;
- a community garden for food and environmental education;
- small group classes where questions can be asked and understanding can grow about the concept of peace and its relationship to soccer;
- and group discussions where activity reflection and conflict mediation can occur.
The project helps participants to imagine and enact alternate realities in Cite Soleil as well as offer up a different, more complex vision of life in this neighborhood to those outside looking in. It aims, through this, to open a space where the youth and their families can begin to move forward and rebuild on a different premise, with self determination, of who they are and what they have to offer Port-au-Prince and the Republic of Haiti in a post-earthquake context.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PAX CHRISTI USA
Pax Christi USA, recognizing the deficit in support and stable relationships for the Pax Christi Port-au-Prince SAKALA project, sees this as the right moment to reinvigorate our historical partnership with our Haitian Pax Christi brothers and sisters. Pax Christi USA’s collaboration on this ongoing project will take the form of three initiatives (click on the links for more information on these initiatives):
- Developing and supporting peace education efforts
- Creating an inter-Pax Christi sustaining network for Pax Christi Port-au-Prince
- Nurturing Pax Christi Port-au-Prince as an aspiring Pax Christi region
For more information on this project and how you can help or support this effort, contact: