A Presidential Moment

by Skal Labissiere
Kings Forward

Yesterday was surreal.

On my way to the first day of Camp S.K.A.L, everything hit me. The old roads, kids playing in the streets, my elementary school and the many outdoor basketball courts.

All of it.

While en route to meet the campers, memories of the places I often dreamt at raced through my mind as we passed one after another.

It's crazy, because I vividly remembered all the 15-minute walks between home and school. Like, seriously, when I tell you I remember the Digicel building, the convenience stores and the schools I passed everyday, I mean it.

Now, some of those structures no longer stand tall, but my home and the people in it are as resilient as ever.

Gymnasium Vincent, where my camp is being held, is the perfect example. Hundreds of kids, despite the heat and any other conditions, were playing ball outdoors for hours. Most importantly, they were having fun doing it.

It reminded me of the years when I was first learning the game – having to win to stay on the court, which was essentially the difference between playing for hours or waiting for hours.

Needless to say, I never wanted to wait.

The competitive nature in me had me despise losing and because of that, I never stopped working.

In many ways, that mindset has stuck with me and along with my faith, the two have gotten me through many of the obstacles set in front of me.

God blessed me with a chance to return home, and today, I had a chance to speak with the kids that remind me so much of myself.

My message to them was simple: dream big and keep working.

If I could achieve my dreams from the streets of Haiti, you can too. I kept working, which for me, meant playing outside non-stop and being in love with the game. Know what you want, have faith and do what you can to make things happen.

Today, those lessons that I’ve lived by for so long came full-circle as I was welcomed to the office of Haiti's President, Jovenel Moïse alongside my family.

We discussed plenty regarding the future of Haiti’s youth, and with that, the future of Haitian basketball. President Moïse welcomed each idea and shared passionate thoughts about the future of our home.

On the way back, I realized how special today was. Not only because of that meeting, but because it gave me a chance to think how special this place I call home is.

The children still have grand aspirations and the city is still as unique as can be.

Much has remained the same. Even though I would like for some of it to change, I am appreciative of it. It's Haiti. It's what I grew up loving. It makes me proud to say that there’s no place like home.

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