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Patrice Millet - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Educating kids through sports

Soccer is a globally connecting sport. It can bring cultures and communities together and make them one. In 2006, when Patrice Millet learned that he suffered from an advanced stage of rare bone cancer, he set out to live his dream through the very sport of soccer. After a life-saving stem cell transplant operation in the US and his cancer in remission, Millet returned home in May 2007 determined to start living the life he dreamed of, that is, to help children from Haiti's poorest slums so that they can have a brighter future.


The country was in desperate need of reform after suffering one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory. Millet recalls that everyday he saw many kids in desperate need of food and shelter and heard so many tragic stories that he felt he had no choice but to do something. “All my life, I wanted to do something good for my country, for the kids. (So) I said, 'This is the time. I have nothing to lose."


Patrice took the giant leap in 2007 and sold his construction supply business. He started a non- profit organization called FONDAPS, which stands for Foundation Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours (Foundation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). The charity uses sports, soccer to be precise, to leverage life lessons and impart necessary tools for the children of Haiti to learn so they can grow as good human beings. Millet calls it "education by sport." "I want the kids to be very good citizens," he said. "In soccer ... you need to give, you need to receive, you need team spirit, discipline, sportsmanship. ... It's not all about soccer, it's about life."


Millet had the task cut out for him because he was adamant on starting his work on children from Solino, one of Port-au-Prince's most dangerous slums. His wife didn't want him to go there as she felt that the gangs would probably kill him. Millet felt that he would rather die doing something good than die in bed.


Eventually, after much suspicion Millet was accepted by the locals. Slowly and steadily, Millet's program became a success. Its rounded up hundreds of children across Haiti who all have benefited from FONDAPS. Before the Haiti earthquake, FONDAPS gathered tremendous steam and expanded to three neighborhoods and involved more than 600 children, including more than 150 girls.


According to Millet, when the children used to win, they were happy because they knew that they had worked hard for it. This helped millet convey a tremendous message to the kids, that is, "Sometimes you win, sometime you lose. ... But this is the way you win in life."


Soccer programs like what Millet offered were rare. Usually, one had to pay to participate but by joining Millet's program the players received free equipment, uniforms, shoes and training. The program even paid for transportation and entry fees to compete in soccer tournaments.


Despite being a one man show with a thin budget, FONDAPS manages to provide participants with packets of pasta, rice and beans to bring home to their families on a weekly basis. He is working towards procuring a bus for transportation and wants to open a school with athletic fields and programs in music and art.

The also foundation acts as a coordinator and partners with other organizations to facilitate schooling, payment of fees which parents can not afford and provide a decent level of learning to as many children as it can. It also provides support with a food program for the participants as well as their families.


 The earthquake in January 2010 slowed down Millet's program. Life for kids became even tougher. Many died and many lost their loved ones. Most of them had to live in tents.


The quake turned two of the three playing fields into tent cities, while the remaining one was too far for most players to walk. Yet surprisingly, 200 boys manage to make it there to play. They would practice five days a week and play tournaments on Sunday.


Millet says,"... I try to give them joy, give them their childhood.""They don't have to steal ... or (join a) gang. They know that they can do something. They know they can believe in themselves,"

For the 11-year-old Jeff Fouvant, Millet is the real hero and Millet’s program a source of life for his family. After losing his father in the earthquake, he lives in a tent with his family of 10. Jeff’s entire family is dependent on FONDAPS for food. FONDAPS also pays his school fees.

Despite the challenges to keep his program going, Millet is not lacking in motivation. Even though, in 2009 Millet's cancer resurfaced, he says, "I realized how important life is, every moment," he said. "I am not ready to die yet. I have many, many things to do."

Millet before starting the program said ti himself, "I will do it" and he did it. He also focused on what he had, that is, his desire to do something for his country. He ignored what he didn't have, that is, perfect health to achieve something extraordinary. It is no wonder that he is also a CNN Hero.

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