Here to Help, Springfield

Project Living Hope offers help for Haiti

Kyda Dodson of Springfield was in Haiti for two weeks with Project Living Hope, where she traveled around with their soccer team, visited medical clinics and taught a cooking class. Aliya Hall/The Chronicle

SPRINGFIELD – When Springfield resident Kyda Dodson heard that her extended family is involved in a project that helps Haitians, she wanted to see firsthand what they were doing. So for her first visit out of the country, Dodson went to Haiti for two weeks.
”It was an amazing experience,” she said. ”Everyone was so warm and were able to laugh at my failures with me.”
Dodson is just one American supporter of Project Living Hope (PLH), a non-profit organization based in Stayton, Ore., designed to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.
The organization is working on the King Center Campus, which serves as an athletic facility and community center. The organization visited Springfield on Dec. 7 to fundraise for the campus.
PLH was founded by Guesly and Sara Dessieux in 2014. Guesly Dessieux was born in Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. when he was 8 years old, later pursuing medicine.
He met Sara during a medical mission trip to the country and the two saw a need for Haitians to have a facility to host community and athletic events, as well as to be a refuge during natural disasters.
”Haiti does not have community centers or sports facilities like our communities in the U.S. do,” Laura Nott, administrative assistant, said. ”At Project Living Hope, it is our desire to be a part of the existing community, not set apart or creating our own community. The King Center will be a place where every member of the community is valued and has something to offer.”
She added that the campus is already hosting soccer leagues and creating jobs for locals through construction and land projects. The campus has 19 acres of land in Camp Marie. They completed the first round of excavation earlier this year, which created three soccer fields and prepped the building area.
The campus will also include an education building, workshop for skills training, community hall and guesthouse for visitors.
PLH needs $1.5 million to complete phase one of the King Center campus and an additional $500,000 to install artificial turf on the fields. Phase two of the King Center campus is an enclosed sports facility which will act as a shelter in times of disaster as well as host top-level sporting events and much more.
”Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere,” Nott said. ”For decades, individuals and organizations have striven to bring Haiti out of this situation. PLH believes that only the Haitian people can bring lasting change to their nation.”
She added that young people are searching for a future outside of Haiti, but PLH wants them to be able to build a future for themselves where they won’t want to leave.
Guesly Dessieux said that people have a desire to help but don’t know how, which is one of the reasons PLH visited Springfield.
Dodson said that it makes her sad to know that the people she met are still struggling with unemployment and she hopes other people will ”catch the dream” to support PLH or visit Haiti themselves.
”We as Americans, there’s a lot of things to do here at home, but what a benefit to get out and see what it’s like somewhere else,” she said. ”Find ways to support really good organizations that are trying to work with the local populations.”



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