Brittany Apolzer-Danis, 18, and Jennifer Brooks, 20, are students aspiring to change the world through humanitarian work.
They have already been a part of several projects where they helped build 13 houses, a preschool and a youth centre, helped women get out of the sex trade in underdeveloped countries and are now planning on taking their passion to the next level by attending the Absolute School of Leadership this fall.
The School of Leadership is a program run by Absolute Leadership Development Inc., a charitable organization that exists to help young Canadians understand that their lives have purpose and that they can make a difference in the world.
With education that is said to be both transformational and relevant, Absolute aims to expand students’ global perspectives and to help develop their dreams and equip them to live them out.
Through personal mentoring, leadership training and practical hands-on experience, students will begin to understand and develop the potential in their lives; they will also be able to walk away with a certificate in international social justice at the end of the eight-month program.
Along with 13 other students, the girls will spend four months in Hamilton for training as well as touring Canadian high schools promoting self-worth and global awareness.
The other four months will be spent at an outreach in Vincente Guererro, Mexico, where they will host Hero Holiday groups that focus on housing projects for the underprivileged.
They will also spend seven days living in a shack and working as the locals do so that they can truly learn what it’s like to live in poverty.
Apolzer mentioned that ever since she was a young girl she wanted to be a humanitarian.
“The plan was to go to Africa eventually because I would always watch World Vision, but then Absolute came to Pen High … The trips are more than just giving your $30 a month, you see it first hand,” said Apolzer-Danis.
Brooks said the Hero Holiday trip she went on changed her life and would easily change anyone else’s that is open to doing similar work and has a heart for the hurting.
“I had no idea people lived in cardboard boxes and tarps. I remember the day they had a celebration for what we did for them and they made all this food for us even though they had nothing. That’s the day I cried,” said Brooks.
“You want the Ipod and the clothes and the TV, and then you go there and they have two sets of clothes for their whole lives. It really puts things into perspective … makes you realize how much we have, how much we take for granted. I came back with a fire started.”
The girls explained the importance of Absolute’s work and support in the Vincente Guerrero area: “Most of the people there pick strawberries for a living because it’s the only job they can get and for working a 12-hour day, they only get paid $10 Canadian,” said Apolzer-Danis.
“The family we built the house for on my first trip was a single mother with 10 kids. After that trip, whenever they needed anything, the family would contact Absolute who would contact me. But this one time when Absolute was working on a project further down the Baja without cell service, the family couldn’t get in touch with them when the woman’s 18-year-old son got food poisoning and they couldn’t afford any medicine. He died. A doctor said if he just had Pepto Bismol, he would have made it.”
Apolzer-Danis and Brooks have been fundraising and working full time but still need financial support.
For more information visit www.absolute.org, or to donate email Brittany at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer at email@example.com.