Unleashing the Hero Within by Jessica Hunter

The Blue Team

Becoming a hero doesn’t happen over night. It takes dedication, perseverance and an unwavering commitment to what you believe in. This week and over the past 9 months, I have had the privilege of witnessing the hero emerge from each and every one of my team members.

YMAD is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special kind of person to not only commit to the hours of training and fundraising, but to volunteer to travel half way across the world to help enrich the lives of complete strangers in third world conditions.

I could never have imagined how incredible my team Isaac, Lizzy, Josh and Addison would do in the most difficult of circumstances. As a first time team leader, no matter how much we practiced, it was hard to know for certain how our months of training would play out in real life.

Each and every one of these teens have played a crucial role in our success both in our village Umarpato where we will teach a group of 60+ children of all ages and educations levels, and at the Main Day Boarding school. They make such a great team and watching them work together literally brought tears to my eyes.

Lizzy has the most kind and soft-spoken demeanor that no matter how shy one of the children might be, they instantly feel at home by her side. I will never forget looking over to see her holding not one, but three kids with a huge grin on her face. She may have been teaching a book called Rockstar Hands and Feet, but she is the real rockstar.

Josh has such a beautiful heart. He made such a huge impact on our village and the boys there truly looked up to him. Every time we drove up to the pathway of our village more and more boys showed up to give him high fives and special handshakes and were eager to learn from him. Getting a group of rowdy boys to sit down, pay attention and interact in our lessons is not easy but Josh made it look like a piece of cake.

Addison’s smile could light up the room. The girls in the village loved to listen to her read and play games like duck duck goose. Everytime I looked up she was the goose again chasing the girls around the circle and laughing the whole time. She has such a great way of capturing and keeping her kids attention and the sparkle in her eyes as she showered these kids with love is truly unforgettable.

Isaac has been a true leader on this trip, and it has been amazing to watch him transform into someone who truly leads from the heart. From taking my direction without hesitation, and remembing to use the tools he learned throughout his training, to finding creative ways to help make sure kids were understanding the lessons, and being the first person to volunteer to carry supplies on the long walk to the village, Isaac was always there to make sure the team had everyrything it needed.

All in all, I want to express my gratitude not only to my team but to Lizzy, Josh, Addison and Isaac's parents for trusting me to lead your teens on this expedition. It has been such an incredible opportunity to watch each of them grow and learn and love the way they have and they will hold a special place in my heart forever.

xx,

Jessica