Connection is what our world is built upon. Connection to people, nature, themselves, etc. can create massive growth within a community and oneself. Fish for Change helped me to get connected with the kids of Sandy Banks, which is a Haitian refugee camp where Haitians escape in hopes of getting to America. By hearing these kids stories and seeing how they live I was able to further myself in my appreciation for what I’m blessed with. Not did this connection help me, but it helped the kids as well. I sat down with an eleven year old boy to talk about his story and his future. He lives with 2 aunts, his dad, and a younger brother in a 1 bedroom shack. His dad is from Haiti and his Mom is from Nassau. They started a family and shortly after things went south. His Mom left for Nassau and his older brother left in search of any job. He barely sees his mom and brother and seemed unfazed by this. This left his dad, 2 aunts, younger brother, and himself sentenced to Sandy Banks in hopes of a way out to America. In America they will meet just as much struggle but the chance at a better life is what drives them to continue on. I asked the boy if he could have one thing in the world what would it be, he quickly responded “A plane to fly to the states”. I got chills. To think that I complain when things don’t go my way is disgusting; when there are literally eleven year olds stressed over getting to the states. The coming of age of these kids is insane; I was able to hold a conversation about life with this eleven year old for a good fifteen minutes. That doesn’t happen in the states. I asked him why he didn’t come to the last time we visited, and he said he had to help his dad build a porch. When I was eleven I was building porches in Minecraft. It got me thinking about what a normal day looks like when we aren’t there. When we started playing with the kids through their smile you could see the release of their daily life stresses that drag them down everyday. After an exhausting day of getting chased by packs of ten year olds we brought the kids back to the village. The boy looked me in the eyes and said when will you come back. My heart sank knowing that in only an hour of I have made this kid feel on top of the world. Knowing that I quite possibly will never see this kid again crushed me. People drive by this village everyday paying them no attention, but our simple act possibly made their summer. Throughout the week fishing shifted out of the spotlight and connecting to the locals quickly took its place. Hearing these people’s stories and impacting them is something I have become obsessed with. Fish come and go but people don’t their stories are what live on. This trip serves as a testament to the power of fishing and the spark it can ignite in someone. We all went from indifferent Americans who were fed by a golden spoon, to a group of young men who understand what struggle is. We are now able to appreciate our opportunities and therefore act on those opportunities to make the most out of them for these kids that we met in summer 19’ at Sand Banks Abaco.
Eric Schuher, 18 years old, New Jersey