First day on the flats, I was guided by @flatsphantom aka Travis. Awesome guy. He helped me to learn how to cast into the wind. As it was very windy, I easily caught my back with my fly, because I was waiting too long on my back cast and the wind would take it. Any way he got me on a bonefish and I instantly trout set and lost him. Then after an hour of casting to bonefish I finally got tight with one. It was surreal. The fishing here can get real stressful, Once the guide points out a fish its like everything I know about casting gets thrown out the window. So after today, I can say the fishing is high intensity. I’ve gotta learn how to calm down to make the perfect presentation. Today, one of the local Bahamian Students asked me to teach humid how to cast. Knowing that these kids look at me as someone to learn from is unreal and it inspired me to get more kids hooked on fly fishing throughout the week.
Today was another tough day of fishing, we were surrounded by storms all day then at the end of the day I hooked up with a bonefish. Luckily we had a BTT rep on my boat and I was able to tag my fish. We then went to Sandy Shores which is a Haitian refugee camp. The infrastructure here was non existent, there were no doors, broken windows, and the “houses” were a couple feet apart from each other. Seeing these living conditions was hard to see and comprehend. However, through all of this these people are still happy and grateful for what they have. We walked through town and gained a following of maybe 30 kids, and played dodgeball with them. The way these kids are able to act in these conditions is mind boggling. BY simply playing ball with them we turned them from the nine year old adult they are forced to become into the fun loving lighthearted kid they urn to be. I am inspired by there lightheartedness and ability to be thankful for something as simple as a soccer ball. I met this one boy named named Issac who was nine, and had to share an air mattress with four other boys. He was the most mature kid I’ve ever met, because he had to become that way to live out here and enjoy it. Instead of worrying about his next fly rod he is going to purchase; he worries about his next meal. This really got my life priorities straight and inspired me to become more like these kids who have experience more in their nine years of life than in my nineteen years of life.
Throughout my 15 years of life, I have endured many amazing experiences that will forever resinate with me. But, the experience I had with the young boys and girls in the town of Sandy Shores is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. When we first pulled into the town, I was surprised to see nobody around, until we got out of our cars and walked further into town. As we walked in, I was able to see children peeking out their non existent windows and doors to see what we were doing. Once they realized we were there to have fun, boy after boy, and girl after girl, filed out onto the street. This was so significant for me because the last thing I expected was a smile. This got me thinking about what makes each person happy. It is different for everyone. But, what I have realized this trip is although these children may have to share a bed with 4 other people, or skip meals, they never take the little things for granted. I feel as though their society is poor economically, but rich with love for one another. Something that many communities in the states seem to lack. There are few people in the U.S. that will smile and feel so much joy because somebody hands them a soccer ball. I met a young boy in Sandy Shores named Marvin, he was very small but had a big personality. What amazed be about Marvin was that every time I would hand him a ball he would say, “thank you”. This expanded my mindset on how important the little things are. Something many people including myself need to grasp and hold on to throughout our lives. I believe that this experience has evolved my mindset and has further broadened my horizon with many struggles people face throughout this world.
- Eric Schuhrer 7/8/19 Abaco
Today, our group traveled to Sand Banks, which is actually a Haitian Refugee camp on the island. Jake explained the situation to us briefly before we got there, but I really didn’t know what to expect. When we got there, it really hit me just how tough these people lives must be. As we went around gathering the kids to come play with us, it hit me; these people are as happy as could be. Their faces lit up with gigantic smiles when they saw us with our soccer balls, and sprinted around the entire camp to gather up their friends to come play. One small thing that truly hit me hard was their basketball hoop. At home, I’m lucky enough to have a small half-court basketball hoop, and although I do play on it sometimes with my friends, I take it for granted. All these kids had was a plank of wood bolted onto a tree and a plastic box-crate as a hoop. After my experience with them today, I bet they thought it was one of they’re favorite things to play with. For an hour we all ran around playing dodgeball, and by the end I was having so much fun with them that the time flew by. When we had to get back on the van to drive home, I realized how different I looked at life then these kids.
Where I live in America, happiness comes by wealth, and how successful you are. You need to be that top student, get into an amazing college, and get a high paying job. If you can’t do that, you are seen as being lazy, or really frowned upon, which is so tough in our society. Talking to some of the Bahamian kids at the camp with us, we starting talking about the difference in social stigmas in between our countries. They mentioned that there is never any mental health issues or suicide-related deaths here, whereas in America, this is sadly nearly common. I directly relate this to that stigma where you always need to be successful and rich in life, and if you can’t get that, some people resort to stuff like that. The people here are always as happy as can be, and especially the kids in Sand Banks. Most of these families all share the same air mattress, and are still light years happier than most or any Americans. They always have smiles on their faces, and are so excited to come play with us and run around for an hour. When I go home, I always want to remember my trip to Sand Banks. If I’m ever mad to do a school paper, or upset about something like that, I want to think back to our trip today. I always need to be grateful for everything I have, and never take anything for granted. As long as I’m always as happy as the kids at Sand Banks, I know everything will be okay.
- Tucker Gannon 7/8/19