Hants County teen helping build school in Nicaragua

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on July 9, 2014

Eric Arenburg showcases the Me to We rafiki friend chains he has been selling for $10. Proceeds raised help a child or family in a developing country. For example, an education rafiki provides a child with school supplies for one year. (Submitted photo)

While most teenagers his age will be lounging around enjoying the summer break, Eric Arenburg will be rolling up his sleeves thousands of kilometres away to make a difference in the lives of impoverished youths.

The Hants County teen will be boarding a plane destined for Nicaragua July 25 as part of a Me to We initiative to help children receive an education.

“Me to We is an organization where you can head to countries all around the world to help build schools for the children that don't get the opportunity (to get an education),” explained Arenburg.

“It's not like a dictatorship there; there's no law that says that they can't go to school, it's just they don't have the opportunity. If they had a building, though, they would be allowed, so that's why I'm going there, to build the building.”

Arenburg, 14, is one of 30 teens from across North America that will be hard at work this summer making a difference down south.

The teen said he isn't afraid of a little hard work, and is looking forward to the experience.

“Since we're way out in rural Nicaragua, we won't have access to power tools, so it's going to be all by hand,” said Arenburg. But, that doesn't phase him. “I've actually done woodworking through 4H, so I do have a really good understanding.”

Last year, he won second place for overall woodworker in the province.

Arenburg said he has always been passionate about helping others. He was around seven when he sponsored his first child.

“I guess I saw the commercials on TV and I just wanted to make a change from a young age,” said Arenburg, who, to this day, still sponsors a child.

At West Hants Middle School, Arenburg is a PASTE (Physically active, Ambassadors, Student motivators, Technology, and Environment) mentor. Every 10 days, the five mentors teach a group of about 40 schoolchildren about leadership.

Now Arenburg is taking his first step towards being a leader outside of Hants County. 

“I feel that if I'm able to do it, I should,” said Arenburg of his upcoming journey. “If I have the resources to take action, I'm going to.”

He raised the necessary $4,500 to participate in the project.

Arenburg said he hopes this is just the first of many projects that he will be able to undertake to help others.