By Mike Tenbusch | February 26, 2021
When she was in grade school, Racquel wanted to be a soldier when she grew up. In a few months, she will be graduating from Excelsior College in Jamaica with a dream of one day owning her own hotel. Her vastly different life ambitions came from making banana bread.
“My sister was volunteering to bake food for our church, and I was measuring the sugar and the flower for her to make banana bread. When I saw the final product come out of the oven, and what it meant to her to be giving that to others, I knew that was something I wanted to do.”
Racquel went on to follow in her sister’s footsteps and will graduate with a degree in Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management. The tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic, and Racquel is determined to find a job anywhere as a manager in the sector because she wants “to come with creative ways to help our tourism industry rise again.”
Listening to Racquel made me want to get my vaccine shot even quicker so that I could get to Jamaica and help their tourism industry in my own small way. That’s what happens when people have a passion in their life. Their purpose inspires others to act.
Racquel with her brother, Kerome, who sells aluminum cans from the dump in Riverton, Jamaica, to help Raquel and their six other siblings since the death of their dad four years ago.
As our scholarship program has almost tripled over the last two years, from 361 students in 2019 to 816 students starting this school year, we are not simply seeing more young people go to school; we are seeing more of those students discover their strengths and passion—and the impact is galvanizing us to do more.
In our strategic planning process over the last month, our board members and team leaders made it a priority to discover the dreams and strengths of every one of our 816 scholars this year. This is one of four goals we set for 2021. We believe deeply that each and every person is born with a unique purpose. Challenges in life, especially in garbage dump communities, can suffocate that purpose, which is why we are so determined to figure out the ways that we can help our scholars discern and achieve theirs, just as Racquel is so clearly doing in Jamaica.
We’re also thinking that the unprecedented disruption over the last year is an opportunity to create meaningful opportunities for supporters of our mission in the US to virtually—and personally—join our scholars in that journey. To get a better understanding of ways in which we can make that happen, Tucker and I have begun calling ten of our supporters each week to get their thoughts.
Please let me know if you have some suggestions or interest in this idea, and we’ll give you a call too.
PS. Thought you might also enjoy this letter Racquel recently sent to us, which is why I reached out to learn more about her life plans…
I am a proud recipient of the International Samaritan scholarship. I am so impressed to let the foundation know how grateful I truly feel. I am currently completing my final exams, and I am sincerely happy because I am able to do my them without the added pressure of not know if I would have the money needed to take them, and this is the reason I write.
I can vividly remember how I felt going into exams in my first and second year. I was devastated. I used to struggle to do my exams. I couldn’t study because worry, fear and depression would take me over because I had no money whatsoever to pay to do them and so I would think to myself what’s the reason to study if I would be unable to sit for my exams?
Then I would remember that I had a plan for my future. I had a dream that I wanted to see through. I would cry and pray day after day for help and strength to push through. Despite of that worry, God has put me through, even as He is doing today, through International Samaritan.
This foundation is not only a light for young people like me in my community, it is my motivation. It has become a shoulder to lean on, and for that I am eternally grateful. If there is any doubt as to whether the funding been spent in vain, I assure you it has not. It has allowed me to push and to grow and be at the end of my fourth year at The Excelsior Community College. I thank the foundation on behalf of my family and friends as they too share the same gratitude that I am extending to you. There are really no words to explain how I really feel. I am ecstatic. I am overjoyed. You are truly changing lives.
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International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.