On a beautiful island in the Caribbean, families are now laughing and cheering and playing on a newly built soccer field.
And the Olathe girl who inspired that field to be built in Haiti would have loved every second of their joy.
When Mid-America Nazarene University student Quincy Foster served on a school mission trip to the village of Cascade Pichon in 2013, she fell in love with its outgoing people, their passionate culture and her heart ached at the ravaged state of the country.
She vowed to return, but fate prevented her in 2014 when a snowstorm stranded her Haiti-bound team in New York City for five days.
Before she could make her dream come true the following year, the 20-year-old died in a car accident during an ice storm on New Year’s Day in 2015.
Her family was devastated.
As they grieved, they asked themselves how they could honor Quincy. The answer was simple. They needed to go back to Haiti.
Every year, MNU features a Passion to Serve project, where students and staff raise money and volunteer to help those in need at different locations around the world.
This school year, the Foster family is partnering with MNU and Heart to Heart International for the Passion to Serve project LQVE Haiti.
Since June, MNU students and staff and Quincy’s friends and family have raised money and traveled to Cascade Pichon to build a soccer field at a local school.
They’ve also worked with refugees from the Dominican Republic and distributed 1,000 care kits to those in dire need.
On New Year’s Day this year, the Quincy Foster Field in Haiti came to life for the first time as local kids competed in an intense soccer game, with around 300 villagers cheering from the sidelines.
It was a moment Quincy, who was an MNU soccer player, would have absolutely adored.
“The bleachers were crammed with kids who were laughing the entire time and everyone was going crazy every time a goal was scored,” said her brother, Shay Foster, a freshman at MNU. “To be a part of that amazing moment at a soccer field named after Quincy one year later, there aren’t words to describe it. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.”
Their father agrees the past year has been an emotional roller coaster.
“As we were on that bumpy ride through the mountains and jungles and riverbeds to Cascade Pichon, it was difficult to retrace her steps,” said Jonathan Foster, who is the pastor of Mission Church in Lenexa. “But it was special because we met kids there who remembered Quincy. It equally broke our hearts and inspired us, because it made us feel that much closer to her.”
Although the scenery in Haiti is breathtaking, it wasn’t until Jonathan Foster met the villagers that he understood why his daughter fell in love with the country.
“The people are in turmoil,” he said. “But despite all of it, they are amazing, beautiful, fun and proud people.”
And visiting and volunteering in the country over the past eight months has been a reality check for the college students and the Foster family.
“Often when you think of a Third World country, you immediately think of helping out with food and water, not activities like soccer,” Jonathan Foster said. “But in Haiti, most of these kids have nothing to do for fun and soccer is such a big component of their culture. This field, although it’s simple, is a big deal to them.”
Their work is not over yet, either.
Soccer programs will be developed, camps will be conducted and tournaments will be established. Two more soccer fields are in progress.
Two more volunteer teams are also heading out this year to take donated cleats, shin guards, jerseys and shorts to the kids and visit refugee camps. Senior MNU nursing students will work in clinics in the southeast region of Haiti to provide basic healthcare to men, women and children.
The goal for the project is to raise $50,000 and so far around $25,000 has been raised.
“As a Christian university, this project is a representation of our university’s DNA,” said Alison Johnson, coordinator for the MNU ServiceCorps. “We have a passion to serve and we’re very community oriented. A lot of students take these projects to heart and jump on board because they want to make a difference.”
For the Foster family, the project has offered them a way to heal. And for that, they’re incredibly grateful.
“When something like this happens, you can curl up and give up, or you can find a way to honor someone really special,” Jonathan Foster said. “Quincy was full of life and joy and she had such a strong connection to God. Everything we’re doing is just a cool way for us to honor our daughter and also be helpful to a community who desperately needs it.”
Jennifer Bhargava: firstname.lastname@example.org