Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Jan. 10


Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney






(Posted 11:30 a.m., March 21)
Jeun'Espoir participants return from life-altering trip to Jamaica

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Jeun'Espoir Jamaique particpant Eric Haggar poses with the owners of two houses the group built near the capital of Kingston. Photo supplied

When you think of March Break and high school students chances are you think of beaches, partying and mayhem. Not so for a group of students from École secondaire publique Garneau.

Fifteen Grade 11 and 12 students from the Orléans high school spent their March Break building a pair of single room houses outside Kingston, Jamaica and bringing some semblance of joy to a local orphanage, a shelter for teenage girls and a home for the aged.

Grade 12 student Eric Haggar described the week in Jamaica as very emotional and potentially life-altering.

"I benefited more from the Jamaican people I met than they benefited from me being there. They taught me so many life lessons that I can apply in my own life. They have so little, but they are very appreciative of everything they have."

Hagger decided to join the Jeun'Espoir mission instead of joining his friends on their grad year trip down south, and he has absolutely no regrets.

"I thought it would be a good learning experience and something that I could learn from and make a difference in someone else's life and I was right, but it also made a difference on my life. Honestly it was a big wake up call."

Jeun'Espoir Jamaique particpant Élizabeth Bruins makes a new friend during a trip to an elementary school in Kingston. Photo supplied

Grade 11 student Élizabeth Bruins first learned about Jeune'Espoir and the work they do during a slide presentation in Grade 6. She's been planning on going to Jamaica ever since.

"Lot of my friends were going on the trip this year and I thought it would be great to go with them. Also, I thought it would help me decide what I want to take in university and do later with my life."

Bruins says her the trip had its desired effect on her by teaching her to appreciate the little things in life and that you don't need a lot of possessions to be happy.

"The pride that people have there for the things they have, that really left an impression on me. They have so little and it means so much to them but they're also not afraid to share it," says Bruins. "It made me want to live simpler. If you just live simply and appreciate the people around you more, you will be happier."

Each student on the trip had to come up with $1,500. The group also held a number of fundraising activities to raise money to purchase school supplies, personal hygiene items, and over the counter medicines.

While in Jamaica they stay at a hostel run by the local Franciscan order. They must get up at 6:30 every morning and work until 4:30 or 5 p.m. After they return to the hostel they have supper and attend a group discussion session on the day's activities.

During this particular trip, they built two 12 x 12 houses on the outskirts of the Jamaican hospital. One was for a man and his daughter and the other was for a family of five.

They also visited an orphanage, three homes for the aged, an elementary school and a shelter for teenage girls where they built several game tables with checker boards on the top.

Jeun'Espoir co-organizer Michelle Clermont is not surprised the mission has impacted the lives of this year's participants in such a profound way.

"When you build a 12x12 home for a family of five and they are so genuinely happy to have it, it makes you question your own situation in life," says Clermont. "It really hits them when they come home because their bedrooms are larger than houses they built. They start to ask themselves, 'Why do I have all this and why do I always want more.' "

This year's Jeun'Espoir entourage included two former students who the group's founder, Andre Clermont, will continue the group's efforts. Isabelle Lapointe went to Jamaica in 2001 and is now a teacher at Samuel Genest where she's organized some of her students to join the Garneau group on past missions. Tonie Lavictoire has been on several Jeun'Espoir missions to Benin, Africa after first going to Jamaica in 2003.

Since returning from the Caribbean island, this year's group will put together a slide show to share their experiences with their fellow students and others in the hope of raising awareness and funds for future trips.

The Jeun'Espoir Jamaique group pose for a team picture in front of one of the two one-room houses they built near the capital of Kingston. Photo supplied

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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