The Ball Exchange

May 7, 2020

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I remember a time in Haiti that still brings a smile to my face. I was with a number of team members going to look at a garden in the nearby village of Dubedou. We were checking on a drip irrigation setup and if there were any results from the drought resistant seeds that had been given.

I had a new soccer ball to give to the school there. A new soccer ball is a great treasure in this remote village but I didn’t know exactly know how to get the ball in the hands of the right person.

The arrival of a truckload of “blancs” is always a big deal and all the kids came out to see what was going on.

I asked one of the boys if they had a soccer team. He said they did. I then asked, “Who is the captain?” Before I knew it, someone was running off to get the captain of the Dubedou soccer team.

The boys crowded around me and pointed to the taller boy as the team captain. I asked, “Where’s your ball?” The team captain ran off to get it.

What he brought back could hardly be recognized as a soccer ball. I would say it was well loved. It was all ratty, split open and stuffed with old clothes. With a big hole in the side, it was barely even round.

I took out the new soccer ball and said I would like to trade his soccer ball for my soccer ball.  Even with the help of translators, the boys had trouble understanding that I wanted their ratty old soccer ball in exchange for the new soccer ball.

I could tell they finally understood when smiles erupted across the boys’ faces. We traded soccer balls and a minute later there was a soccer game going in the school yard.

I might have missed a teachable moment, but then again maybe it was a teachable moment for me.  What do you think?

 by Steve Bressler, HFH board member

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