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'A better future' for Haiti's underprivileged

updated 5:19 PM EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Patrice Millet was named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011
  • His nonprofit teaches soccer, life skills to Haiti's poorest children
  • Millet: 'Love comes first, then comes the money'

(CNN) -- After being stricken with cancer, Patrice Millet dedicated his life to helping children in his native Haiti.

In 2007, he started a nonprofit youth soccer program called FONDAPS, which stands for Foundation Notre-Dame du Perp├ętuel Secours (Foundation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). The program provides free equipment, coaching and food to hundreds of children from Haiti's poorest slums. Its aim is to teach the children to become responsible citizens.

CNN asked Millet for his thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Patrice Millet: I was getting home -- coming from a visit to an orphanage in Petionville -- when I received the call.

Wow! I was moved, very touched. I admit that I had difficulty believing it at the time. I am so happy for the foundation, so happy for the kids. I consider this as a blessing.

I must also confess that I stress just a little thinking about all the things this implies: the media, the interviews, the photos. I am not used to all this press or all this attention around me, but if it is to help the children even better, I shall become used to it.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to FONDAPS?

Millet: This recognition means a lot to us, here in Haiti and internationally. It helps to bring awareness about the conditions our underprivileged kids live in. I think more people realize there is a lot to do, but a lot can be done by any of us.

I thank God who, probably through me, wanted to touch these children, to give them new opportunities and offer them a better future. This is taking (us to) a scale about which I did not even dare to dream.

CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award that you receive for being selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Millet: We used to dream about a lot of improvements, more help we could bring to the kids or about helping even more kids; there are so many of them who need it.

Some of our goals are to buy a field we would be able to use anytime we want; to have an academy where we can help even better the kids who are talented in soccer and would love to become professional players; to expand our program and have more girls; to have a school with art, painting, music, so when the kids finish the program they have something in their hand; and to have a real and solid structure with an adequate administration who will make sure that FONDAPS' work continues even if I am not here anymore.

For sure, this money will help us to start making these dreams -- or some of them -- come true.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Millet: It is important to us that people understand that a lot of what they see, a lot of the results they can see on TV, are made mostly out of love.

Some months, I don't even know how I will pay some of my coaches, because the financial donations I received this particular month were not enough. But still they will come, and still we will continue to support the kids, to listen to them and to play with them.

This is FONDAPS, and this is what all organizations working with these underprivileged kids should be about: love. Love first, then comes the money.

Read the full story on CNN Hero Patrice Millet:
Finding hope on the soccer fields of Haiti

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