Above: Paige Dostie, left, and the rest of the Sacred Heart Academy soccer team helped organize an effort to send soccer equipment and medical supplies to Haiti. Arnold Gold — Register
HAMDEN >> Paige Dostie didn’t know what to expect on her summer mission trip to Haiti. It ended up being a trip unlike any other she has experienced.
The under-developed country located in the West Indies can be an eye-opening experience: families in destitute situations so bad they don’t know where the next meal is coming from.
“I’ve never been exposed to something like that. I thought I was ready for it,” said Dostie, a junior on the Sacred Heart Academy soccer team. “Everyone in America takes things for granted. I wanted to see the other side.”
After spending five days seeing that other side, Dostie wanted to help give back in some way. Purely by coincidence, Sister Sheila O’Neill, the president at Sacred Heart Academy, wanted each of the school’s sports teams and clubs to conduct some type of service project during the school year.
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Then she heard what Dostie, a Northford resident, wanted to do. From there, the team began to put together soccer uniforms, balls and cleats to donate. O’Neill said Haiti is sacred Heart Academy’s sister country.
“I had no idea Paige had gone to Haiti. They are in terrible need,” O’Neill said. “Soccer gives them some enjoyment. It’s nice these kids are doing it on their own.”
The school will also send medical supplies and simple dental needs to Haiti.
Alex Ryan, also a junior who for the unbeaten Pacers (3-0-1), went with her family on a mission to the Dominican Republic this summer.
“We went down with an organization called Foundation for Peace,” said Ryan, who lives in North Haven. “My family wanted to go. It was very eye-opening. It makes you look at things a lot differently.”
Dostie said she helped paint at a school in Haiti, helped out at an orphanage and visited a hospital. She also found time to play soccer.
The field? No grass, just dirt. White lines around the field? Nope, just crushed rock. The U-15 boys team Dostie and some friends (who accompanied her on this mission) competed against? Well, they didn’t look like teenagers.
“They were so malnourished, we thought they were 7 or 8,” Dostie said. “They looked up to us, almost treated us like royalty. … Some of them walked an hour to get to the game and then they played soccer for another 2-3 hours.”
Simply call it a life-altering experience for Dostie.
“It changed me a lot,” Dostie said. “You appreciate your family and what they give you. I don’t really ask for things I don’t need anymore. After seeing what they don’t have, you do everything you can to give things to them. They don’t complain that they are not getting their next meal.”
Turner at national camp
West Haven native Tyler Turner is one of 36 players attending the United States’ Under-18 training camp this week in Carson, Calif.
Turner, who was a Register All-Area selection as a freshman at Notre Dame-West Haven in 2010, was a member of the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team. The No. 2-ranked defender in the Class of 2014 according to Top Drawer Soccer, Turner hopes to be one of the final 18 players elected from this camp for the U.S. 18-under national team.
Turner is the only Connecticut resident in the camp.
Joe Morelli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter @nhrJoeMorelli.