Making a difference
Donkin-Morien student part of Lighthouse Church’s humanitarian work
For the past few months much of our attention has been focused on the mental well-being of our young people.
There are many groups in our local communities working each and every day to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our young students.
One such organization is the Lighthouse Church and Undercurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay.
The Lighthouse Church gives the youth in our area a sense of belonging as they seek spirituality in their lives.
Lighthouse is a relatively new faith community that opened in November 2005. For the past 12 years, Pastor Dave Sawler and his wife Shirley have welcomed people of every denomination to worship.
At a time when many churches have closed their doors due to declining enrolment, the Lighthouse Church is flourishing and is attracting a younger generation of churchgoers.
As part of the youth ministry, Lighthouse Church operates the Undercurrent Youth Centre to cater to the needs of our youth.
One of the members of the Lighthouse Church is a student from Donkin-Morien School — Evan Billard is a young man with a keen interest in helping the less fortunate.
For the past 10 years, this faith community has been involved in humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic. The mission trips exist to give people the opportunity to serve others.
Each participant learns to become a person who is involved in making changes in the lives of the poor, neglected and needy in our world.
To get an understanding of the health and social situation in the Sousa region of this impoverished country, they visited an orphanage, a school and a pregnancy centre. Then the group members rolled up their sleeves to help build four houses for local families so that they could have a better standard of living.
For the participants, the trip was a life-changing experience. These volunteers became part of a team that experienced the hardships and day-to-day struggles faced by many people in the world.
The volunteers are usually ages 16 and up. They make exceptions for younger participants if they are travelling with a guardian. Evan was only 12 so he convinced his maternal grandmother Lynn Billard to go with him on the trip. His grandmother belongs to the Giovanetti family that is very well-known in the Port Morien area.
The cost of the trip must be raised by each participant. This young man worked hard to raise all the money himself so that he could broaden his view of the world.
The cost of the trip was $1,999 and he devised a fundraising plan.
He organized a successful yard sale, collected bottles for recycling and held a lobster draw.
So why did this young student want to devote his time, energy and money to go on the Lighthouse Church humanitarian trip? “I wanted to go on this trip to help the less fortunate in any way that I could,” said Billard. “I realize that I am only young but I feel that every little bit of help makes a difference. The trip made me realize that there are many people in the world who are homeless and have very few material possessions.
“The people that we helped were very thankful for all our work. The experience made me realize how fortunate I really am to be living in Canada.”
These words ring so true. Even the poorest family in Canada has a better life than some of these families. Evan Billard will continue to share his experiences in the Dominican Republic and will carry these memories for a lifetime.
Let me conclude with the words of the great humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer: “The purpose of human life is to serve and show compassion and the will to help others.”
The Lighthouse Church in Glace Bay organized a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic where Cape Bretoners helped build houses.