July, 2010

One of the quirky little things I learned about the country of Haiti is that the people are wild for Brazil soccer.  We were visiting during the height of the 2010 World Cup, and the streets were alive with yellow and green.  Flags, banners, homemade jerseys, you name it!  Even with the language barrier, I could always say, “Soccer?  Brazil?” and get a huge smile from any child.  They rallied around their team.

On one particular visit to Shada (basically a community living in a swamp full of garbage), I was feeling particularly down.  After seeing the sheer filth of the situation it was hard not to feel helpless.  As we walked back toward our bus, winding through the little huts counted as homes by so many Haitians, I heard a familiar melody: the official anthem of the World Cup.  Someone was playing it from one of the homes.  It was so out of place!  I couldn’t imagine where they received the recording, or what they were playing it on, but it was loud and clear.  As I processed the situation, I looked down to see the boy who had been holding my hand. He was singing along to the song in English!  To my knowledge he didn’t know English – I had tried a few words on him earlier.  But here he was now, effortlessly singing along to the World’s Anthem. I held back tears.  If you do not know the lyrics, I have posted them below:

Give me freedom, give me fire, give me reason, take me higher
See the champions, take the field now, you define us, make us feel proud
In the streets our heads are lifting, as we lose our inhibition,
Celebration its around us, every nations, all around us

Singing forever young, singing songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game.
And together at the end of the day.
When I get older I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom Just like a wavin’ flag
And then it goes back
And then it goes back
And then it goes back

I wondered if he felt the weight of those words.  I wondered if he felt the emotion they carried and how they seemed to pertain his country right now.   As he sang, I sang along next to him, both of us moving to the beat of the music, united by a song that the whole world was singing with us.  I believe our song was sung as a prayer to God for Haiti that day, and I left Shada filled with a new sense of hope.