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Antigonish men help deliver bed kits to Honduras

Connie Beaton and Clarence Deyoung with some of the children they met during a recent journey to Honduras, as volunteers with Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW). Contributed
Connie Beaton and Clarence Deyoung with some of the children they met during a recent journey to Honduras, as volunteers with Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW). Contributed - Corey LeBlanc
ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

Coffee and bananas for breakfast might be an alternative, once in a while, especially for the busy person on the go.    

Try having that morning meal – everyday – especially if you are a growing child.    

“It was unbelievable,” Clarence Deyoung said, reflecting on his time in Honduras earlier this summer.    

He noted those same children from that Central American country are “lucky to get one meal a day.”    

“We don’t realize how fortunate we are,” the Pomquet native added.    

Deyoung, along with Connie Beaton of Antigonish Landing, helped deliver more than 7,000 bed kits to children over a two-week period, as volunteers, with Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW).    

“It was, once again, an eye-opening experience,” Beaton, who made his first trip with SCAW to Kenya just more than two years ago.    

He noted photos and words cannot describe adequately their experience or the conditions lived in by most of the Honduran people.    

“You have to see it to understand it,” Beaton said, shaking his head in disbelief.    

Living in “rampant poverty,” as the pair described, many families have houses constructed of wood scraps and cardboard; most without power, no place to cook or plumbing.    

“In one home – there was 14 family members sharing six beds,” Beaton noted.    

Despite their living conditions, they said there was never a time they did not see a smile crossing the face of a child.    

“They are incredible,” Deyoung said.    

Beaton added “they are so happy.”

‘Glimmer of hope’    

Known as the “100 per cent charity,” because all donations go to purchasing items for bed kits, the charity – founded in 1970 by Margaret and Murray Dryden (the parents of NHL Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden) – has brought comfort to millions of children in more than 30 countries.    

Describing them as providing a “glimmer of hope,” Deyoung explained each bed kit, which costs only $35, includes     items such as bedding, clothing and school supplies.    

Each one also contains a life-saving mosquito net.    

“There were so many [dengue] cases this year,” Deyoung said, noting the alarming number of the mosquito-borne viral disease.    

Battling the deadly illness will be aided by the nets that SCAW provides.    

“The school supplies are gone [used], of course, but we always see the lasting benefits the bed kits provide, including the mosquito net,” Deyoung noted.    

Volunteers see those ‘lasting benefits’ when they make visits to the home of previous recipients.    

“It is hearing about what they need; not what we think they need in North America,” Deyoung said of those stopovers, when they get feedback from parents and their families. 

‘Absolutely fantastic’    

During this trip the Antigonish duo, along with their SCAW team members, also learned how the initiative can also benefit “cottage industries” in the respective countries.    

“It was just in a small room,” Beaton recalled of the businesswoman’s factory, where the T-shirts and shorts for the bed kits were produced.    

Deyoung noted that entrepreneur would “never get an order of that size.”    

“It was absolutely fantastic,” he said, in describing the quality of their work.    

The order provided three months’ employment for her workers, many of whom are single mothers.    

“It is not much but it is helping create work for people, as well,” Deyoung noted.    

The business owner was also able to use some of the monies from the clothing order to update and purchase new equipment.

You can help    

“There will always be a need,” Deyoung said, in reminding people of the importance of purchasing bed kits.    

He noted buying one, on someone’s behalf, makes a great holiday, birthday or anniversary gift.    

“People, more and more, struggle with what to buy for people, so this is great option,” Deyoung added.    

Another growing option, which he called “big,” is making an ‘in memory of’ bed kit purchase.

Sharing their story          

Because SCAW donations do not go to any administrative items, such as advertising or mail outs, the importance of delivering their story is magnified.    

Volunteers, such as Deyoung and Beaton, are asked to share their experience at schools, church groups and service clubs.    

The men said their story is one they are willing to share; one they will never forget, including the van drives back to where they were staying after delivering 600 to 800 bed kits per day. 

“They were pretty quiet,” Deyoung said of those return trips, when everyone “processed everything they saw that day.”    

“That’s something we are still doing,” Beaton added.    

To book them for a speaking engagement, email clarencedeyoung@gmail.com or maryandconniebeaton@yahoo.com    

For more information about Sleeping Children Around the World, or to make a donation, visit scaw.org

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