Story of forgiveness shared with students
Two men united by an unlikely bond of friendship and forgiveness have made their first international trip to share their story with Bermuda's students.
Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins are linked by spirituality, reconciliation and prison time.
Both men are from Benton Harbour, Michigan, where Mr Collins, a white police officer, framed Mr McGee, who is black, for a drug offence that put him behind bars for four years.
Mr Collins later did jail time of his own for falsification of police reports and planting drugs.
Uplifted by Christian beliefs, their faith was put to the test when they met at Mosaic, a faith-based employment agency.
Mr McGee said: “That was kind of rough. I hadn't seen him face to face yet. When I did, all that emotion was back on my shoulders.”
Mr Collins added: “I relate to the person carrying the weight and shame of what they've done to somebody, and to the community.”
Brought to Bermuda by Chain Reaction Movement, an anti-bullying campaign at local schools, the duo are bringing their story to the island's young people.
Mr McGee said many Bermudian students carry the familiar signs of “the hurt from home”.
He said: “I have a story for that as well. My childhood was very rough. We got beat every day. All I remember was wanting to do stuff kids do, and I couldn't.”
Even so, he and his twin brother have rekindled their relationship with their mother.
Mr Collins said: “You can see the hurt in the faces of kids. They're in front of their friends and they're not going to spill their guts, but I've had several hugs where you know there is so much emotion.”
Their account of their lives, Convicted, was published in September.
Tyaniel Darrell, programme co-ordinator for Chain Reaction, said the story struck a chord with students.
He said: “One thing to realise is that hurt people hurt people. The hope is that these stories can help people let go of that hurt, and move forward.”
Mr McGee added: “Chain Reaction are on top of their game and they're trying to stop it before it begins. They're going strong.”