By Michael Turnbell
They may live worlds apart. But for a day, a simple soccer ball brought together Georgos Jusakos with boys his age at an orphanage in Haiti.
Georgos, 13, an 8th grader who lives in Orlando, traveled to Haiti in August with his mother, Luz, and several other donors from the Orlando area and Palm Beach County.
During the three-day trip, they visited an orphanage in Ganthier, where children were given new sandals, clothes and toys. It didn’t take long for the boys to engage Georgos with the soccer ball, kicking it around and showing off their skills in the orphanage’s courtyard.
“Seeing them happy really made us light up,” Georgos said. “The power of what a real toy can do to these already happy kids is so amazing.”
Georgos and his mother, Luz, will be attending Food For The Poor’s 17th Annual Celebration of Hope Gala Saturday at the Orlando World Center Marriott, 8701 World Center Drive, Orlando. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m.
While in Haiti, Georgos visited the site where money raised by the Orlando gala will be used to build 30 safe and secure homes in Ca-Ira, Léogâne, Haiti. In Ca Ira, residents are still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
He also visited Alpha Village, a place where families live in huts made from scraps in a garbage dump next to the sea. Donors handed out candy and lollipops to children, many of whom had no shoes and played with trash found in the dump.
“One of the girls saw that I didn’t have a candy. She went out of her way to offer me a candy,” Georgos said. “I couldn’t believe how someone who has nothing would offer to give me something. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.”
Georgos said he is grateful for the opportunity to see the world from another perspective. Although it was difficult to see the overwhelming needs of the poor and how boys and girls his age live in such desperate conditions, at the end of each day Georgos said he reflected on Food For The Poor’s mission to help one person at a time, one family at a time. He hopes to travel with Food For the Poor to Haiti again some day.
“We are trying our best and that’s what matters,” Georgos said.