11:30 a.m., March 21)
participants return from life-altering trip to Jamaica
By Fred Sherwin
Jeun'Espoir Jamaique particpant Eric Haggar
poses with the owners of two houses the group
built near the capital of Kingston. Photo
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
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.
12 student Eric Haggar described the week in Jamaica as
very emotional and potentially life-altering.
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
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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
co-organizer Michelle Clermont is not surprised the mission
has impacted the lives of this year's participants in
such a profound way.
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.'
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.
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.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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