Imagine a school that takes care of educating 75-80 children with little to no resources. Classrooms are divided by portable chalk boards. Pencils are hard to come by, workbooks or reading books are so old that they are missing pages, what walls they have have not been painted in years, there is no sports equipment to use for PE classes. That is what Mizpah Primary School was like. After three years of serving at the school, our students painted every classroom, built a library, an outdoor learning center, provided school supplies and sports equipment, and tutored children in math and reading and taught them volleyball and baseball. While those are tangible outcomes, the most important one was the relationships that were built between the children and our students. The outpouring of love and attention was truly a witness to the Xaverian core values of compassion and trust. Not only did the students work hard, they also found their hearts open to giving love and joy to the children they served.
Our other site was Mt. Olivet Boys Home. This is a place that houses over 50 boys ages 6 through 19. Our task was to build relationships with them by spending time talking, playing soccer, catch, Frisbee, and basketball. Again, while these tangible experiences were full of fun, the special moments were getting to know the boys and hearing their stories. The fundamental principles of the Xaverian Brothers teaches us to reach out to the poor and the marginalized and to build relationships that endure. Upon returning home, the students continue to keep these children close to their hearts. They have photos on their cell phones, message them through WhatsApp, and talk about the day they hope to return to serve once again. They have been changed and are truly examples of living the Mission of Theodore James Ryken as stated in the Fundamental Principles, “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are called to follow in His footsteps and minister God’s healing touch of love, through word and deed, to all whom you meet in your journey of life.”