South Surrey teens aim to help out in El Salvador

Crescent United Church members Sean Leighton, Gregor Morrison and Ian Leighton prepare to head to El Salvador later this month.  - Contributed photo
Crescent United Church members Sean Leighton, Gregor Morrison and Ian Leighton prepare to head to El Salvador later this month.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A group of youth from a South Surrey church will be travelling to El Salvador this month in order to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Ten teens from Crescent United Church will pack their bags and fly to the Central American country March 19, stopping at the small community of Tierra Nueva for the start and end of their trip. The church has shared a close bond with the small community – made up of 15 families – for 17 years, explained trip organizer and elementary school teacher Cheryl Lightowlers.

“We’ll visit on the first day and they’ll feed us lunch and we’ll visit homes in the community and have a worship service,” she said.

Following the visit, the youth will move on to a nearby community to begin building homes for five days. On the last day, the South Surrey residents will return to their sister community to serve up a pancake breakfast.

Gregor Morrison, 16, and twins Ian and Sean Leighton, 16, were among the group who approached Lightowlers and co-organizer Jean MacDonald about organizing a trip for youth to participate in.

The three South Surrey students told Peace Arch News that the culture shock is one thing they’re looking forward to.

“It’s something we’ve all never done before and it’s really interacting with a culture that we’ve never encountered and situations of life we’ve never really encountered. We’re kind of anticipating and hoping for our eyes to be opened,” Morrison said.

The teens, who all know each other from church and school, have been studying the history of El Salvador to prepare for the trip in between gathering items to bring over.

Boxes will be filled with books, dictionaries, musical instruments and toiletries to bring over to the Tierra Nueva, which only has access to water for two hours per day.

“We just like to be able to give back where we can,” Sean Leighton said, noting the group often volunteers at soup kitchens. “It’ll be cool to actually do something to give back instead of just donating money.”

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