04 June 2019, Apia Samoa. A group from Utah, USA called Humanitarian Experience for Youth (HEFY) is in Samoa for two weeks to help build two extra classrooms for Vaimea Primary School.
HEFY is a not for profit faith-based organisation in the United States that gathers youth and supports them to travel abroad on humanitarian building projects.
Trip leader Aubree Matheson said that their group are here to build two additional classrooms for Vaimea Primary School.
“The school have a waitlist of over 400 students so we are building these two extra classrooms so that more students can come to school and get an education because it is very important for the future of any children,” said the trip leader.
Ask how they came to know of the schools need for extra classrooms she said their local coordinator John Joseph sources projects by identifying needs from around the world.
“We will be here for two weeks and then another group will be here for another two weeks;
“Altogether there will be five groups in total, and the project will carry out from now until the end of August;
“We are the first group and so we are responsible for digging the foundation. We are laying the foundation and clearing the land and getting rid of the roots so when that’s done, we will head back home and the next group will come and build the walls.”
The HEFY group identifies the projects, but it is the youth who raise funds for the project costs, as well as their airfares and costs for their trip.
“The youth fundraise and a lot of them work for several years at home to save up for the money to be able to come for their 2 week trip as well as the costs to complete the project.”
Their mission is to provide opportunities for teens to serve in areas of the world where they can be of assistance to those in need, while at the same time, grow their testimonies of the Gospel, in an atmosphere that is safe, fun and in line with being followers of Jesus Christ.
HEFY is made up of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, although not officially affiliated with the church.
The group leader said that they gain an appreciation of culture from the people of Samoa, while they are able to serve at the same time.
“We believe once we come to understand the culture and serve the people, we will love them even more and we believe that service is the best way to love someone,” she said.
“Our youth build their testimonies of our Saviour Jesus Christ and we believe that one of the best ways to do that is through service;
“So our purposes is three fold; its primarily to show love through service, build our testimonies and also tourism to do some site seeing while we are here because this is such a beautiful country and so we love to see the landscape – we spent some some time in Tafua and we’ve seen the To Sua trench.”
She added that Samoa is a very unique country in terms if culture and the people.
“We just love the country and especially the people and we feel so incredibly welcome here and its so unique to see the way of life here and how its very simple and very united,” she said.
“We walk around and people wave to each other and there are no fences or gates built around people’s homes, instead people are very friendly and it seems like one big family and that is something we hope to take with us and hopefully have that mindset once we go back home so we can be more open and kind towards others.”
The Independence public holiday was the group’s first day on the project and they were seen working out in the sun, digging and picking up all the rubbish surrounding the area.