kona at dinner

We are learning that one of the most interesting parts of the guesthouse job is the guests.  You are probably not surprised.

Right now we only have one guest – Kona (above left at dinner). We are also fortunate to meet the friends and co-workers that she brings by for meetings and meals.

As the executive director of G.O.A.L.S. Haiti, Kona with her colleagues runs a youth program that uses soccer to engage kids in community service and education.

She epitomizes what we have seen in several other young Americans we have met who are working here in Leogane – amazingly energetic, focused and hardworking, and seeming to revel in the challenging living conditions.  (Is it hot?  Are there mosquitos?)

Kona founded GOALS after the 2010 earthquake, her first summer after graduating from Brown University in Rhode Island.  Her team serves 300 boys and girls aged 7 – 18 every day.

We have enjoyed hearing Kona’s philosphy of nonprofit management and her story about how she became interested in Haiti.

Kona grew up in Seattle and began volunteering at an early age.  Then she read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.  She decided to get a degree in international development, first coming to Haiti as part of Brown’s Haitian studies initiative. In Leogane after her freshman year, Kona taught English and learned Kreyol.

She returned during Spring Break 2010 as a translator.  She remembers walking down Leogane’s Grand Rue where in the middle of the rubble, both kids and adults were playing pick up soccer in the street.  As she watched people laughing and having fun in terribly difficult conditions, she realized the power of sport to bridge the gap between fun and hard work.