By Rachele Viard
“Kako”, born Jacques Bourjolly, Jr., has been in the business of making people laugh for over 20 years. He needs no introduction as his Bingo Nights and other stand-up comedy specials have brought him a lot of notoriety. From a very young age, though very shy, Kako enjoyed emulating his uncle Jean Maurice “Daddy” Bourjolly with whom he shares a great gift of storytelling and telling jokes. “I was a jokester in school. I have loved telling jokes and making people laugh since I was a young kid,” Kako says.
He laughingly recounts that his comedic career began by happenstance. He didn’t see himself on stage or making a living as a comedian. His debut in the field began in 1994, as the owners of La Belle Epoque, a restaurant, asked him repeatedly to perform on their premises. He finally did and thus his career took shape.
Though if you ask Kako, his proudest accomplishment is launching Kako’s Kids Foundation which strives to serve Haiti’s disadvantaged youth and promote education using sports as a way to educate and empower them.
HT: What propelled you in philanthropy?
Kako: I didn’t become implicated in philanthropy. It has always been a part of me. Social implication has been at the core of my being. As a student, I helped kids in the neighborhood to read. The gap that exists here is so obvious, I have always tried to do my part to lend a hand.
HT: When was your foundation Kako’s Kids established?
Kako: We started around 2010 right after the earthquake. It wasn’t called Kako’s Kids at the time, it was called the Smile Project. Our work focuses on their education which is a priority to me. Our programs and activities are also designed to strengthen personal development, and foster social responsibility. Many of our activities revolve around sports such as volleyball, soccer and basketball to get them interested, grab their attention. As I always tell the kids education isn’t only at school.
What you can teach kids through sports, in a camp or playing on a team is unlimited. And at 13/14 years their minds are so ready to learn, so we try to reach them and help them become socially responsible citizens of Haiti.
Kako’s Kids established Teren Jenès, (Youth Terrain) which is a safe, nurturing and stable, environment where youth come to participate in diverse activities. To date we have established seven (7) Teren Jenès which are located in Cap-Haitien, Cité Soleil, Lycée National de Pétion-Ville, Sainte Anne, Fréres de Pétion-Ville, Place Jérémie, and Skyboul.
The youth could be part of various other terrain’s such as a terrain of violence, drug, stealing, etc., we offer an alternative, a terrains of encouragement, hope, joy, discipline, compassion in order to develop civically minded adults. We are in the process of inaugurating 2 new Teren Jenès in the very near future.
Since its inception, Kakos Kids has organized several toy and shoe drives, outings with the children, helped to “makeover” Our Father’s House.
HT: Kako’s Kids has been organizing a summer camp for several years now, what do you plan to do now this summer given the pandemic?
Kako: The camp started back when we were still Smile Project. It is a camp for underprivileged children, this year may be the first we don’t have camp due to COVID-19. I miss it…but I’m sure we will compensate with something different for a shorter period of time. I’m working on a soccer tournament for the kids, because I do a lot of soccer activities. It’s better to wait than risk the kids’ and their families’ health.
HT: Who are some comedians or actors you admire?
Kako: Locally here in Haiti Languichatte also Mr. Latour he did a lot of play with words in his commercials. There are a lot of actors and comedians I follow and like. The ones I like the most are the ones that give the most of themselves on stage and share their wealth. The ones that give back to the community like Ellen DeGeneres. At my age I look at a lot of comedians and I can learn from them, but now I look at their humanity more than I did before.
I’m so proud to call you my friend kako! You truly have a special gift and you are doing a lot of work through your foundation ; Kako’s Kids. You are the future of Haiti and I look forward to seeing more accomplishments from you!
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