It’s not often you find teenage boys who are eager to write essays in their free time, let alone essays about wanting to help people in need.
But, that’s just what Kooper Brimm and Weston Brokaw did.
Weston, a sophomore at Clarke Community High School, and Kooper, a freshman, who are both members of the FFA chapter at the high school, had to answer a three-question essay about why they should be picked to help build homes in Haiti.
“Of course, Kooper was ‘I want to go, I want to go,’ and then at first it was kind of funny because he kept coming to me and saying ‘I think I’d stand a better chance of getting picked if you went as a chaperone,’” said Kooper’s mother Sue Brimm with a laugh.
Eventually, Sue was influenced to go as a chaperone.
The program the boys will be participating in is through the Sioux Central FFA chapter. They will be with other students from across the Midwest helping to construct Sukup SafeTHomes.
For the boys, one of the essay questions they had to write was “Define what a global citizen means to you.” Another was to tell about yourself and the activities you participate in.
The third was “What do you hope to gain from this trip?”
“I really hope it’s a life-changing experience,” Kooper said, “and to come back and just share with everybody else like how it is down there.”
Weston added, “To learn new things and help out people.”
In 2010, a major earthquake struck Haiti with the country’s capital Port-au-Prince near the the center of the destruction. It was estimated 316,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless during the disaster.
The SafeTHomes Weston and Kooper will help construct can provide shelter for 10 or more people and are resistant to moisture and termites.
SafeTHomes are built with a double heat-shield roof and screened-in lockable windows and doors. The design can withstand 130 miles-per-hour winds and is virtually earthquake proof.
Each unit incorporates two windows and a double-roof system to deflect heat. The cost of each home is $5,700.
Brandi Boyd, agricultural instructor/FFA advisor at Clarke Community High School, said even though the boys are underclassmen, they are willing to take on big challenges to help others in need.
“To me, it’s very exciting to have them be part of this organization that I help lead,” Boyd said. “To me, that shows huge, huge, huge amounts of determination, responsibility, maturity, and that’s exciting to me that they’re this young and that they have those skills.”
While the boys will be spending a lot of time building houses, they will also be helping out at an orphanage.
The town they are staying at is near a beach, so there will be a few fun things to do, like going to a movie or playing at the beach.
The Haiti trip will be a trip of many firsts for the boys, including their first time on an airplane.
When asked what they were most looking forward to while in Haiti, Kooper said, “Probably just the experience in general. Getting to go out of the country and helping people.”
Weston said he agreed with Kooper about helping people “because you want to.”
When asked about what it means to see her son so driven to help, Sue said, “That’s just how he is, kind of. Both of these boys, I think, are huge in helping others and doing for other people without expecting anything. Oh, it makes you proud.”