This article was originally posted on the Archbishop Curley High School Facebook page and shared by The Mortel Family Charitable Foundation.

The student body, faculty and staff celebrated Ash Wednesday with a service and distribution of ashes at the end of the day. Junior Gerard Whalen then explained his summer experience and the FYM Lenten Project.

“Good afternoon, my name is Gerard Whalen and I am a member of the FYM FLEX team, and I just want to talk to you about an experience I had over the summer and what that means for us here at Curley. Before coming back to school this year I had an opportunity to volunteer in the country of Haiti. For those of you don’t know, Haiti is a Caribbean country where the average income is under a dollar a day and it also happens to be the poorest country in the hemisphere. I went to Haiti for a lot of reasons, primarily of course to volunteer, but I also went because I wanted to see and experience true poverty. The images we get of the third world are often so altered and filtered. I am sure we have all seen the sad commercials about how your dollar a day can feed a starving child. What we don’t see however the pride, happiness, and hope that these people have, especially the children. It’s in the children that you can really see hope.

I was lucky not only because I got to work with such awesome kids, but because I also got to see them in school. Here we tend to take our education for granted, but in Haiti an education means a comfortable life. One of my most prominent memories was of being questioned hours on end about English. The students placed such a high value on education that they were willing to learn for hours on end, even if they weren’t required to. Knowledge makes all of the difference to them, and luckily it’s something we can help with.

The organization that I went to Haiti with was called the Mortel Foundation and the mission of the Mortel Foundation is to provide the life changing education that these kids need. The Mortel Foundation not only built the school but it also pays for the teachers, supplies, and even for the students; and that is why I am here to talk to you today. Every year the Mortel Foundation has to come up with enough money to sponsor all of the students at its schools and it does this primarily through sponsors. So this year during the season of lent the FYM will be hosting a fundraiser for the Mortel Foundation. The goal is for every class to raise enough money to sponsor one student for about $350. This is an opportunity for all of us here at Curley to change the lives of 4 kids.

Thank you for your time and thank you in advance on behalf of the students we will be supporting”