Grade 11 student finds inspiration, life lessons while on leadership camp
Hannah Martin recently came to the Onward-Vivian Cock UCW meeting held at Willow Lodge. The Grade 11 student at NCHS presented a slideshow of her recent trip to Mexico. She was there with a group of young students who took part in social justice work while at the “Campeche Leadership Camp,” a two-week long program.
Martin raised money for the construction of an AMANC cancer support centre for underprivileged youth in Mexico. This center will someday give youth, from newborns to age 22, a place to stay while undergoing treatment.
The experience, offered through the Nova Scotia International Student Program, saw her fly to Mexico with 19 other Grade 11 students from Nova Scotia. Students were paired up with “leadership partners” from Campeche, who also took part in the program, and stayed with their partners’ families for the duration of the camp.
Most of the homes where they stayed had both beds and hammocks to sleep in, but Martin only slept in her hammock. Homes in Campeche were all made of concrete, unlike many Nova Scotian homes. The windows had sliding glass, but also screen and metal bars. The sliding glass was normally left wide open to allow for air circulation, as the temperature reached at least 30°C every day. Martin's room had a fan and an air conditioner.
Martin had to cover the cost of her trip's expenses by fundraising $2,000. On top of that, she raised $4,175.50 for the social justice project. The students raised a total of approximately $24,000.
While in Mexico, the students visited sites from the Camp's previous projects and decided to continue supporting them. They donated a washer and dryer to an athletic centre where underprivileged youth are trained to become Olympic athletes. They used funds to provide healthcare for a year for the orphans at the Divino Niño orphanage and placed funds into discretionary accounts for the Maria Palmira orphanage and families of the children currently undergoing cancer treatment.
“Meeting the children was a truly humbling experience. They were so beautiful and always happy, despite their conditions and setbacks. We were there to help them both financially and with out leadership, but I quickly realized it was the children who were teaching us so many important lessons. I felt we truly accomplished something,” Martin says.
Although this particular program is only for Grade 11 students, Martin says “on the way home we all talked of trying to make another trip back to visit the kids and see how the project we worked on was progressing.”
When completed, the AMANC support centre will be similar to the Ronald McDonald houses here in Canada.