Ole Miss Football Builds Hope In Haiti

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Serderius Bryant in Haiti
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Serderius Bryant in Haiti
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

March 18, 2014

Photo Gallery

By Joey Jones
Associate Director, Athletics Media Relations


When 17 members of the Ole Miss football family, including 10 players, arrived at the village of Camp Marie, Haiti, their world was turned upside down.

Gone were the accustomed luxuries that most Americans take for granted: paved roads, restaurants, over-the-counter medicine, plenty of clothes and shoes, even clean water.

What they encountered in Haiti was completely different. Dirt and gravel everywhere. Trash piled up on the walkways. Children without shoes, some without clothes altogether. Dogs and cattle that look like skeletal versions of themselves.

"I probably saw 300 children in the village and only two toys," said John Powell, the Ole Miss football team chaplain who for the second straight year took a group of Rebels on a spring break mission trip. "One toy was a broken monster truck with only two wheels. The other was a wheel off a baby stroller that they rolled on the ground with a stick.

"You would find yourself taking pictures of young people and show them the picture of themselves on your phone, and it was the first time they ever saw what they looked like. It was a very humbling experience."

The Ole Miss group lived in Camp Marie just shy of a week. Their primary task was to widen a narrow gravel road enough to allow trucks to pass through so the community could improve the transport of its primary financial resource, the papaya fruit.

"Every day we got up at 7 o'clock, ate breakfast and worked on the road," said rising junior offensive lineman Justin Bell, who also went on a mission trip to Panama last spring break. "They needed help widening the road. When we first got there, it was wide enough for maybe two or three people to walk side by side, but by the time we left it was enough for a truck to go down."

"Now they'll have a greater opportunity to increase income for their village," said Powell. "We were only there for a short time, but it's good to know that we left them with hope that there are people out there that do care."

In addition to Powell and Bell, the Ole Miss group consisted of graduated defensive back Ontario Berry, senior linebacker Serderius Bryant, redshirt-freshman quarterback Ryan Buchanan, sophomore long snapper Will Few, senior cornerback Lakedrick King, redshirt-freshman kicker Andy Pappanastos, redshirt-freshman linebacker Tayler Polk, graduate student linebacker Deterrian Shackelford, sophomore defensive end John Youngblood, team manager Lee Plaxico, and linebackers coach Tom Allen, his wife Tracy, and children Hannah, Thomas and Brittney.

Powell and Allen also orchestrated leadership training sessions for village leaders, and the whole group spent time with children, shared about their faith, and prayed for the sick and needy.

"We prayed for a few families," said Bell. "One lady couldn't even walk because she had high blood pressure. That shows you what kind of medical attention we get here in America. When someone has high blood pressure, they take a pill and they're fine."

Powell said roughly 15 percent of the Haitian youth in the village are able to attend school.

"It was eye-opening," said Bryant, an All-SEC linebacker from Sanford, Fla. "It changed your mind about a lot of things. Sometimes I think, `Why do we have to go to school? Why do we have to go to football practice?' Over there, all of them want to go to school, but they can't afford it. And that's crazy. We are upset about going to school when it's free, and they actually want to go to school but they can't even afford to."

The level of poverty was new to all the members of the mission team. But as they walked through the village set in the mountains with breathtaking views in the distance, they were amazed by how the Haitians responded to their presence.

"Even our homeless in America have more than what the people had in that village, but I can honestly say they were some of the happiest people I've ever seen in my life," said Bell. "Because they value family and meeting people. Some of the older guys have been waiting to see Americans come and help their community since they were in their 20s. It brought tears to their eyes when they saw us. When we left, they shed a tear again because they were going to miss us. They wished we could stay forever."

"They don't know anything different," said Powell. "They're happy. They admit they have issues and problems, but they have a happiness about them.

"This was a great experience for our guys to come back and know how grateful they should be. And I hope it will also lead them to look for opportunities to help those in need even in Oxford."

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Historic Start to the Football Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Football

      After a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, Ole Miss moved up four spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, released on Sunday.  Despite breaking into the top 10, the Rebels remain fifth among Southeastern Conference Western Division... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Sept. 14

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Athletics

      This is the third installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week... read more

    • Three Rebels Net First Goals of the Season

      Sunday, September 14, 2014 - Soccer

      Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0... read more

    • Golson's Buy-In Pays Off

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson has come a long way since he was a freshman.  That season, he was most notably on the receiving end of a highlight reel juke from Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Three years later, as part... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-ULL Motivational

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs ULL Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-ULL

      Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as Ole Miss faces Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday. Wearing the Bull's-Eye After a 2-0 start with wins over Boise State and Vanderbilt, Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll,... read more

    • Thompson Lifts Rebels to Historic Start

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Volleyball

      With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season. The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season,... read more

    • VIDEO: Return of The Grove

      Friday, September 12, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Rebel Nation Remembers Stan Sandroni

      Thursday, September 11, 2014 - Football

      Rebel Nation goes into its home opener Saturday excited for the return of football at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but also saddened by the loss of one of its most renowned voices.Stan Sandroni, 64, passed away of a heart attack late Wednesday.... read more

    • Freeze Talks Schedule, Areas for Team to Improve

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' home opener Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.Freeze's time... read more

    • Former football player releases Chucky Mullins book

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      Former Ole Miss football player Jody Hill has partnered with Square Books in Oxford to launch his book, "38: The Chucky Mullins Effect," celebrating the life and impact of his Ole Miss teammate Chucky Mullins. Hill will be signing copies... read more

    • 3 Things About Gameday - Ole Miss vs. ULL

      Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Freeze, Luke Talk Offensive Line Progress

      Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - Football

      From week one to week two, head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke are generally pleased with the progress along the offensive line. The number of false start penalties went from eight to two, while the... read more

    • Changing The Perception of Ole Miss Volleyball

      Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - Volleyball

      With back-to-back tournament titles to open the season, the Rebels are 7-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007 and are also the only Southeastern Conference team still undefeated."We feel like at this point in our season... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 1-7)

      Monday, September 8, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 1-7, 2014Football- Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll after its dominating 41-3 victory at Vanderbilt on Saturday.- It was the... read more