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
    • Striking The Right Balance Offensively

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss has been held under 100 yards rushing in each of its last meetings with Alabama, a 33-14 loss in 2012 and a 25-0 loss in 2013. Running the ball effectively and finding a balance is one area, the... read more

    • 3 Things About Gameday - Ole Miss vs. Alabama

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 22-28)

      Monday, September 29, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 22-28, 2014Football- No. 10 Ole Miss used a dominant defensive effort to put away Memphis 24-3 on Saturday, setting up one of the biggest games in recent history this coming Saturday against the Alabama... read more

    • PHOTOS: Week-Long Timeline of Powder Blues

      Monday, September 29, 2014 - Football

      1. Tuesday 9/23 at 4PM @CoachHughFreeze reveals the helmets to the @olemissfb team at team meeting. pic.twitter.com/8jpVCvny4p— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) September 29, 2014 2. Wed 9/24 at 4PM @OleMissFB practice hidden indoors so that team practice in helmets for safety reasons. pic.twitter.com/vA0Oo6Ps7S— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) September... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House

      Sunday, September 28, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. I'll handle the bulk of the notes this week, but we also have some insight from Austin Miller here as well. Let's... read more

    • Upset Bid Falls Short Against No. 10 A&M

      Sunday, September 28, 2014 - Soccer

      Seeking its first win over a top-10 team since 2009, Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead but fell short to No. 10 Texas A&M, 2-1, Sunday afternoon. "I'm really happy with the team's performance," head coach Matt Mott said. "I'm... read more

    • Defense Honors Mullins with Dominant Effort

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

      Wearing the lighter blue helmets for the first time since 1994 to honor the late Chucky Mullins, the Ole Miss defense also honored his memory with perhaps the most dominant defensive performance of the Hugh Freeze Era. "Chucky would have... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Memphis Motivational

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

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

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Memphis

      Saturday, September 27, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 10 Ole Miss faces Memphis Saturday. Battle of the Quarterbacks Ole Miss and Memphis have both gotten steady quarterback play, as both teams rank inside the top-15 nationally in scoring offense.  Senior quarterback Bo... read more

    • Rebels Rebound with Hard-Fought Draw

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Soccer

      Playing in their fourth overtime game of the season, the Ole Miss soccer team played Arkansas to a 1-1 double-overtime draw on Thursday night.  The teams combined for 30 shots, including 13 on goal, but the game was characterized more... read more

    • 3 Things About Gameday - Ole Miss vs. Memphis

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Football

      read more

    • Freeze Stresses Focus, Attention Ahead of Memphis

      Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's time on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of the Rebels' matchup with Memphis on Saturday (6:30 p.m. CT, Fox Sports Net). Freeze's time on the call begins at the 1:21:20 mark. For... read more

    • Memphis Not Fazed by Big Stage

      Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - Football

      Memphis is 2-1 heading into Saturday's matchup with wins over Austin Peay (63-0) and Middle Tennessee (36-17) and a 42-35 loss at No. 11 UCLA. The Tigers scored two early fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the Bruins at 35-35 with 13:44... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 15-21)

      Monday, September 22, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewSept. 15-21, 2014Volleyball- Ole Miss went 4-0 to capture the Rebel Classic and improve to 14-0 on the season.- Through four weeks of the season, the Rebels have equaled last year's win total (14-17).- Sophomore... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Sept. 21

      Sunday, September 21, 2014 - Athletics

      This is the fourth 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