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Eye-opening Haiti trip for Impact students

Kyris Simons, 14, with a group of young people in Haiti (Photograph supplied)

Fifteen staff and students from the all-boys school Impact Mentoring Academy returned earlier this month from a life changing missions trip with Feed My Lambs Ministries in Haiti.

From March 22 to April 2, the team worked to build a home for the charitable organisation founded by Philip Rego.

The small property would go to the primary caregiver of the orphanage, whom the children refer to as ‘mom’.

The school also raised money months in advance, so they could donate materials to the construction project.

Chris Crumpler, the school’s executive director, said the staff and students had been “blown away” by the kindness shown to them by the Haitian people.

It served as a reminder that while the Western world has far more possessions and material wealth than Haiti, the people in the Caribbean nation may actually be far richer, he said.

“In many ways, they are rich and we are poor,” Mr. Crumpler explained.

“We are stressed, overweight and insecure because of our conditioning through Western culture and civilisation, whereas they are completely disconnected from that. The people work hard and make the most of what they have, which was really inspiring to see.”

According to Mr. Crumpler, humanitarianism is an important aspect of the Impact Mentoring Academy curriculum. The school’s overall aim is to develop the Island’s boys into young men through mentorship, life coaching and a more hands-on approach to learning.

“In Bermuda, it can be hard to really bring that altruistic quality out of our boys authentically, so what we do is try to provide them with overseas opportunities to give back and see how other cultures live,” Mr. Crumpler said.

“We have been to Belize, Costa Rica and Thailand in previous years.

“We chose Haiti this year because we want our boys to become more aware and appreciative of what they have. We are surrounded by a culture of entitlement and privilege, but we want our young men to develop into caring individuals with integrity, honour and excellence in everything they do.”

Student Antonio Carvelho, 16, said the experience made him realise just how selfish he could be at times.

“Sometimes I take things for granted and people say I’m spoilt, but being over there you see just how little some people have,” Antonio said.

“Upon arriving to the airport in Haiti it was crazy on the drive to Feed My Lambs Ministries seeing people without clothes. You could see their ribs because they didn’t have enough food and weren’t able to afford medical care. It was eye-opening for me.”

The teenager admitted it was tough work building the home in the hot sun — but in the end, it was worth it.

“I became good friends with people in the orphanage,” Antonio said. “There were two boys in particular, Jid, who is five, and Jess, who was four, and they taught me a few games and felt I was like one of their brothers. They were really great to me.”

Khyri Simons, 14, also built special connections with the people in Haiti.

“I think I will most remember how loving the people were,” Khyri said. “As soon as we arrived at the orphanage the kids just jumped up into our arms and hugged us. I never had that before. It made me feel like I was special.”

Even though he couldn’t speak French, the language used in Haiti, he found other ways to interact with them through playing football, offering up haircuts and spending quality time with them.

“It was an awesome experience,” Khyri said. “I got to see another part of the world and what people live like. I look at the world differently now, appreciate what I have and know that I should be grateful. We have things people there will never have the opportunity to have, so we should give back whenever possible.”

Impact Mentoring Academy is currently accepting registrations for its Autumn 2017/ 2018 school year, with limited spots available.

The school is also appealing for support with its ongoing fundraising campaign to raise money for science, sports and trades equipment. Anyone wishing to donate and become a patron (for a donation of $100) or partner (for donations upward of $500) can e-mail info@imabda.bm or call 747-4621.