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UNE student helps change lives in Haiti by building homes

Volunteers with Be Like Brit build a home for a needy family in Haiti over the course of a week
Volunteers with Be Like Brit build a home for a needy family in Haiti over the course of a week

January 31, 2020

Patrick Mead is now studying abroad at UNE's Tangier, Morocco campus
Patrick Mead is now studying abroad at UNE's Tangier, Morocco campus
Patrick helped build homes in Haiti during two separate trips to the country
Patrick helped build homes in Haiti during two separate trips to the country
Patrick has made many new friends through his volunteerism with Be Like Brit
Patrick has made many new friends through his volunteerism with Be Like Brit

Patrick Mead (Secondary Education, ’22) is no stranger to international travel, so it comes as no surprise that he is enjoying his time this semester on UNE’s Morocco Campus.

“Ever since I was little, I have been interested in other cultures and countries that differ from my own,” he explained. “It is a huge part of my experience that I study abroad in Morocco. It has been an unforgettable experience so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring.”

During his years in high school, Patrick traveled to Ecuador and Haiti. It was there in Haiti where he really learned what it means to give back. During two separate weeklong trips to the country, Patrick helped build homes for needy families through his volunteer work with Be Like Brit, an organization that honors the memory of Britney Gengel.

Gengel was a vibrant college sophomore who died while on an aide trip to Port-au-Prince when an earthquake leveled the hotel she was staying in.

“When I learned about her, I instantly fell in love with the compassion she showed, and I wanted to incorporate that more into my life,” Patrick said. “Each day, I am inspired by her actions and strive to be more like her.”

Patrick recently went back to Haiti to visit with the family now living in the first home he helped build in Grand Goave. Before moving in, the woman and her four children lived in a shack made of scrap metal and tarp. They slept on a dirt floor where floodwater from the mountainside poured in through their roof.

“When I met her on that first trip, she didn’t smile once,” Patrick told the Boston Globe. “But, that second time, she smiled because she recognized me. She just looked physically younger. She felt loved.”

Patrick says that moment was the best experience of his life.

“I didn’t truly understand the impact I made in that woman’s life until I went back to see the family,” he commented. “It was a very emotional moment for me, and it is something I will never forget.”

Not only is Patrick planning to stay connected to Be Like Brit, but he recently received approval for a chapter at UNE. Lane Clarke, Ed.D., associate professor in the Department of Education, is the faculty advisor while Patrick fills the role of president.

“Through the club, we are hoping to raise awareness about Haiti as well as raise money for the charity,” Patrick stated. “Perhaps in the future UNE can even have its own Be Like Brit trip to Haiti.”

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