NFL Star Marcell Dareus Changing Haitian Children’s Lives By Helping Build Classrooms
JACKSONVILLE, FL. - Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Marcell Dareus made the lives of hundreds of Haitian children and a whole community far more promising last week when hereturned to Haiti for the second consecutive offseason and broke ground Wednesday on the "Marcell Dareus School Wing" at Christ-Roi Primary School of Cammy in the southern part of the country.
Through his partnership with U.S.-based charity, Hope for Haiti and agenerous $125,000 donation through his Dareus Foundation, the two-time Pro Bowler will fund a three-classroom building for over 190 primary school children who currently attend daily classes in the small town's church. In addition to giving the kids a new school, his monetary efforts will go to funding teachers' salaries, school supplies and some of the necessary infrastructure to sustain education for years to come.
"I don't think I have never experienced a day like Wednesday when I took part in the groundbreaking of the new school which will have my name on it," said Dareus. "It is one thing to give money to something and hope for the best; it is quite something else to witness your efforts and see the gratitude and thankfulness of not just the children, but the whole community, for doing what you're doing."
"Today is a day that the community will treasure and is a sign of the progress yet to come," said Raphael Durose, Founder and Chapel Director of the Christ-Roi Cammy Primary School. "For a long time, a school like this has been a dream, but now it is a reality. We are most grateful to Marcell for sharing his generous heart with the students and for his willingness to take part in this special ceremony. I want to thank everyone at Hope for Haiti for planning another trip to remember."
After arriving to Haiti on Monday, Dareus presented his generous check at a welcome reception and press conference among Hope for Haiti board members, government officials and the media.
This year's trip included a day spent touring the capital of Port-au-Prince, with stops at the National Museum, the National Palace and the Statues of the Heroes of Independence to learn more about the ancestry of his Haitian roots and culture of his Haitian-born father.
"It was interesting to hear about the history of Haiti and learn more about the harsh reality of the years of slave trade in the country," he said. "It all helps me understand more about my father's background and early life. I will continue to explore ways to know more about him and my family heritage."
Dareus then traveled 124 miles to Les Cayes, the area of Haiti where Hope for Haiti concentrates their efforts, and concluded the trip with the school's groundbreaking on Wednesday. The colorful school in Cammy is set on a hill overlooking picturesque slopes of sugarcane, vetiver, corn and other crops. The school expanded to include the sixth grade and become a complete primary school in 2010, and now thanks to the donation from Dareus, more students will have a safe and child-friendly place to learn.
He was welcomed by Haitian Rara and Fanfare bands before members of the community spoke, including a sermon from Father Jean Clausel Lima and words from third grade student Christ-Menora Augustin, who thanked Dareus for the direct impact his donation would have on her education.
"To receive their blessings and hear their words of appreciation directly was something I could have never imagined several years ago," continued Dareus. "Their gratitude and happiness was overwhelming and showed me that what I am doing is going to have a tremendous impact on their lives."
With speeches and blessings completed, Dareus, surrounded by the school children wearing his signature captain's hats and gifts given by the Jacksonville Jaguars, including Jaguars bead necklaces and pencils, cut a red ribbon and laid the first cinder block for the new school wing, symbolizing the future growth of the small community.
For Dareus, the good work does not stop here stating, "I promised my mom that I would support Haiti in any way I could and now I am using my platform to keep my promise. It's a beautiful country with incredible people and children who need help. I want to make sure I do everything I can to lift them up. This is just the beginning of what we're looking to accomplish here. I plan to come back after next season to see the new school and decide what else I can do to continue to build a legacy of hope for Haiti."