Breaking news! The College of Charleston’s basketball team visit to the 410 Bridge community of Leveque, Haiti is hitting the news!! Check it out…
LEVEQUE, Haiti (WCIV) — The College of Charleston basketball team is still months away from getting back onto the court, but some of the Cougars spent time helping those affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
For the past two years, 410 Bridge has used the common love of sports as a way to communicate with the deaf citizens of Leveque, Haiti. Sign language may be the primary form of communication, but a recent visit proved the language and simplicity of sport is still universal.
“I can’t speak Creole. I speak five percent of sign language, but we can go out and have a friendly game. We don’t even have to say a word to each other to understand but we understand completely,” said Willis Hall, a junior forward on the Cougars’ roster.
And it’s that understanding that is fostering new relationships, forcing those who can’t hear to reach out of their comfort zones and above the rim.
It’s also forcing these one-time outsiders to reach within and to extend a hand.
“It’s really more about outsiders caring enough to give of themselves,” Hall said.
It’s making a difference, too.
“I’m happy for the support in Haiti,” said William Saint Eloi. “I need more, more to come visit and help.”
It was College of Hope founder Angela Mallen’s vision to combine sports and good deeds — a vision that has proven to be a rewarding challenge.
“It’s challenging raising the money and getting people to believe in what you’re doing and I’ve had nothing but support,” she said. “And it’s given me hope to continue this big dream that hopefully will spread to other schools and to other sports and tap into other sports teams but it has been a blessing so far.”
CofC head basketball coach Doug Wojcik sees the mission as a learning experience both on and off the court for the Cougars.
“It’s really to experience something new with people who maybe you can make a difference with,” he said. “And then of course you can really turn that around and apply it to yourself for sure.”
The real slam dunk is seeing progress being made, from an on-court assist to new homes being built, and a community that welcomes more missions like College of Hope.
“I need more team coming in Haiti, coming here, coming to teach the people about the basketball in Haiti. I want more teams coming to Haiti. I love — I love that,” Eloi said.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake affected an estimated 3 million people. At least 52 aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater have been recorded since the initial disaster.