This is a story of a Hero and one of life’s true ambassadors for goodness and generosity. The story starts in 2006 when Patrice Millet was diagnosed with a rare bone Cancer in which his only option was a stem cell transplant or face death. Patrice Millet opted for treatment in the USA and after a 9 month fight for life he was finally in remission and was able to return to Haiti in 2007.
Millet decided that he was going to do everything and anything he could to help the children of Haiti after a devastating time in the country’s history and finally lead the life that he wanted instead of the one he felt he had to lead by giving Haiti’s youth a chance of a prosperous future.
“Every day you see so many kids in need, so many bad stories, tragic stories,” All my life, I wanted to do something good for my country, for the kids. I said, ‘This is the time. I have nothing to lose.’ “
Millet had a vision, a vision in the form of an organisation that would help people to improve themselves through soccer and not just as a player but more importantly as a human being and life skills to become successful, moral and upstanding members of the community. It is an Education by Sport but to get the education he had to find the funds to start his revolution and he did that by selling his construction company giving him the finance to start the FONDAPS Program or Foundation Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours which means Foundation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
“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.”
One major obstacle he had to overcome was the fact that to achieve the goals he set out to achieve he had to go into the most dangerous slums in Haiti and promote his cause risking his life to make a difference as Haiti has a huge problem with gangs and gang related crime and murders. Over time Millet gained respect and trust from the slum communities giving him more access to make the changes and promotions he needed to sign children up to his programs.
FONDAPS have already proven to be survivors as they persevered through the Earthquake of 2010 which decimated the country and slowed down the operations of the organisation but didn’t stop Millet and his work as it has just drives him on further to help rebuild and make the FONDAP Program even bigger and to help more and more people in the region.
“When you live in the ghetto, you don’t see the world outside,” he said. “I try to bring hope for them, … to show them that (their) life is not only the reality.”
Soccer programs in Haiti were non existent before Millets program , and the only ones available were those kids had to pay for to register and to buy kits etc. , but with Millets FONDAP it gave every child an opportunity to participate without the pressure of finding financial help to do so as it is for free ,the kits,the tournaments and even the transport is paid for by Millet which allows all to have a chance of prosperity and to grow as human beings
“When they win, they are happy and they know that it’s because they worked hard for it. … That is the message I want to tell them,” said Millet. “Sometimes you win, sometime you lose. … But this is the way you win in life.”
So far Millet has stopped hundreds of children from turning to a life of crime and from joining gangs by giving them an outlet to put their attention on instead of being seduced by criminals. When the earthquake hit, two of the three fields they used became tent Cities reducing the amount of space he had to provide the help which was needed but that hasn’t stopped his determination as he constantly helps with the children’s education by paying for it himself and offering hope to thousands.Some families have 10 family members living in small tents and without FUNDAP funding and food parcels they and many other families just would not survive.
“To see the joy in the face of a kid … and you know what he’s living (through) … that makes me happy,” he said. “It’s so wonderful to see the progress they make in soccer, in their own life, in everything.”
In 2009 Millets Cancer made a return which meant a return to the USA for a short time to get treatment but fortunately he made it and has plenty of big plans for the future.Millet plans and hopes to be able to create an athletic Leisure complex to secure a future for the Organisation and to continue to help the people of Haiti.