A ‘Phoenix’ rises from Haiti quake ashes
Haiti’s infamous Cite Soleil, one of the world’s most violent and run-down slums, could boast a 15,000-seater stadium and sports complex if one philanthropist’s dreams are realized.
Named after the mythological bird that rises from the ashes, the “Phoenix” is to be constructed, at least in part, using debris from the devastating January 2010 earthquake that claimed a quarter of a million Haitian lives.
The project is the brainchild of Robert “Boby” Duval, the son of one of Haiti’s richest families and a former soccer and basketball star who is well-known for decades of philanthropy in Cite Soleil.
Duval chose the location intentionally so the stadium might stand as a symbol of the fight against injustice in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.
For more than 20 years, the 58-year-old Duval has headed up the Haiti Athletic Center, planted in the heart of Cite Soleil on a field that once served as a bottling center’s dumping ground.
“This neighborhood is detested as an eyesore and some wanted to completely bulldoze it. So this is a big project,” he told reporters.
Imprisoned for political activities against the repressive regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in the 1980s, the former leftist activist came up with the idea when he was released and sought a new direction.