Curing a Country, One Soccer Ball At A Time


Once upon a time, someone said: "Love is like an earthquake- unpredictable, a little scary, but when the hard part is over you realize how lucky you truly are."


Once upon a time, someone said: "Love is like an earthquake- unpredictable, a little scary, but when the hard part is over you realize how lucky you truly are."


On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 earthquake shook the land of Haiti, a small country located in the Caribbean. CNN News believes nearly 100,000 people died in the devastating quake. Immediately, countries all over the world lent a hand to this country in need of food, shelter, water, and most importantly their families. Many nations put forth rescue missions and recovery squads.


This is the story, not of two countries, but of two American children who are aiding Haiti in their own special way. Not everyday do you come across two amazing children who have made a huge difference in the world. Their project to donate soccer balls to children in Haiti will help hundreds of kids in this devastated country. In fact, this family of eight is doing their part to heal the world. Not everyday do you discover these things.


I met Zachary (10) and Rachel (9) Harris of Littleton, Colorado to learn more about their charitable project for Haiti. Rachel and Zach are the eldest in their family of eight people. Their parents, Rich and Lisa Harris, decided to help those in Haiti regain their lives after the earthquake. Zachary and Rachel saw a need and came up with the soccer ball project. They will be aided by their adopted brother Josh and sister Olivia. Their adopted siblings from Haiti, Davinson and Guimara,are too young to help, but will revisit their native country soon with their new family.


How did the Haiti Soccer Ball Project get started? Zach and Rachel's parents, Lisa and Rich Harris, are co-founders of The Road To Hope, a non-profit charity dedicated to helping the children of Haiti and their communities. During a trip to Haiti last summer, Lisa and Rich saw children playing in open lots. They were trying to play soccer with empty plastic bottles, tin cans or wads of paper as the ball. Later, Zachary and Rachel decided to try to do something to help.


The Harris family collected deflated soccer balls, and their plan is for anyone who wants to help Haitian families and children to "sponsor" a soccer ball. During their trip to Haiti this summer, they will blow up the soccer balls and hand them out on the streets to the kids.


Coming up with the idea was something that came across as particularly interesting. Their father, Rich Harris, said that the project was a way not only for their family to help Haiti, but it was a way that Zachary and Rachel could connect with kids their age in a different place. They wanted a special connection with those in Haiti and Colorado, and the connection from Rachel and Zachary with other children from Haiti seemed perfect.


Only very recently did their family adopt two children from Haiti. Not too long ago, they also adopted two children from China. Zachary and Rachel are their parents' biological children, but their brothers and sisters are all adopted. Rachel and Zach feel unique because they have adopted kids into their family. They felt different having children from different countries living in their house. They admitted it felt a little weird at first, but they soon got used to it. "At first, adopting kids from China felt interesting that there were two kids not necessarily related to us," Zach said to me. "Soon we wanted to help more kids. We decided to help our parents' charity in helping Haiti, a really poor country, to make the lives of other children better," he added.


On Sunday, May 16, their family raised money at the Colfax Marathon to build an orphanage in Haiti. Rachel Harris gave me advice for anyone who wants to dedicate time or money to Haiti. She said, "If you would like to help Haiti, a great way to do it is to donate money. You can even sponsor a soccer ball if you would like." If you are interested in learning more, you can visit to and find out how to get involved. Or, if you would like to sponsor one of the soccer balls, email Rich Harris at and request to sponsor a soccer ball. You can also donate money to Red Cross for Haiti or UNICEF.


Rich and Lisa Harris went to Haiti last July. They wanted to take their children to Haiti in February, but because of the earthquake, they have postponed Zach and Rachel's first trip to Haiti. Zach and Rachel will accompany their parents on a trip to Haiti this June.Rich Harris showed his admiration in this way: "We are very proud of our kids. They have matured, they have grown as human beings. We are very proud of that."