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LCS Alumnus: Daniel Tillias
News item date:
Sunday, June 12, 2016
by HPN Staff
Daniel Tillias ’96 strives to develop positive relationships between children in the community through education and sport.
Daniel Tillias (’96) is quick to point out that, “Everything I have in my life, I have because of LCS.” Tillias especially credits The Haitian Project’s Louverture Cleary School (LCS) with teaching him the real meaning of leadership and the importance of sharing what we have received. After graduation, Tillias secured a university scholarship to study human rights law. Several years of working with people behind bars, some from his own neighborhood, compelled the question, “How did they get here?” The answer sent Tillias back to his native zone of Cité Soleil – the poorest and most violent area of Port au Prince.
Watching gang leaders recruit boys as young as eight motivated Tillias to create a safe space for children to do what kids should – play. With the help of Pax Christi, Tillias founded SAKALA, a Kreyòl acronym which translates to Community Center for Peaceful Alternatives. Today, SAKALA has 250 young people enrolled in the program, which is founded on four pillars: Education, Community, Development and Sport. Tillias sees soccer as a universal connector. Through playing and working together, children in the program develop positive relationships. They also receive tutoring, engage in community service, and promise to share what they learn with their families and friends.
Jeff Benoit (’13) participated in the program before, and during, his time as a student at Louverture Cleary. Benoit notes, “Because Tillias is a graduate of LCS, you see the same philosophy [of Mt 10:8] at SAKALA. The programs there are not just about helping the kids – they are about helping the whole community.”
Speaking to a group of current Rheto (12th grade) students, Tillias stressed the unique potential of Louverturians to build a Haiti where justice and peace thrive. For Tillias, Haiti’s need is citizens who live and work for an honest living. Through him and his fellow alumni, LCS is working to provide just that. “You can see the success of LCS already – many graduates have the opportunity and capacity to leave Haiti, but they choose to stay and they choose to give back.”