HEFY, or Humanitarian Experiences for Youth, is an independent nonprofit service organization located in Salt Lake City, Utah, that offers humanitarian expeditions to youth ages 16-19, each summer.
These trips send students all over the world, giving them the opportunity to serve the people of many countries, which can include building a house, a school, a medical clinic or even an orphanage.
Erin Foster, a graduate of Denmark High, and her group traveled to Mozambique to build a new school for students who were currently studying under trees.
Her mom, Dee Foster, went along as one of two-parent builders. Erin and Dee were in group two, which focused on building the foundation of the school. They worked every day for two weeks, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., mixing concrete and cement. Once the foundation was finished the brick work began.
The kids in Mozambique came to the job site to play every day. They had the same clothes on, with no shoes, but they had the happiest smiles. Building a foundation for a school was hard work. Erin said her group fought hard for that school. They had cement burns all over their feet, blisters, huge scratches all over their bodies, and they were exhausted. But it wasn’t about them. They wanted to help others.
Everyone on the trip had the same goal: to serve the people, and also to spread God’s light to every single person they met.
“I met lifelong best friends and it changed my outlook on life and my future,” Erin Foster said.
Foster was accepted at Brigham Young University, and has left for Provo, Utah, to study nursing. She plans to eventually become a physician’s assistant.
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Savannah Dustin, a graduate of West Forsyth High School, served in Zimbabwe. She was also part of the second group to serve. Their job was to build a maternity ward, so they spent time mixing cement and laying bricks.
They woke up every morning at 6:30 a.m. and had breakfast. At 7:15 a.m. they studied the scriptures, then reached the worksite by 9 a.m. and started work. Dustin said the people in Zimbabwe were open and friendly, and she enjoyed going to a small LDS church in Kenya where the members gathered outside to pray and talk about their families
“They were so welcoming,” she said.
HEFY was a life-changing experience for Dustin. She said that she learned two lessons. One was that she’s grateful for the miracle of heath care, and two she discovered how to be more open and accepting of others. She said she would recommend HEFY to others because it “was the highlight of my high school years and gave me a new perspective on life.”
Dustin will be attending BYU Idaho this fall and will major in either technical theater or early childhood development. She did tech theater all four years at West Forsyth High school, working on sets, costumes and lights.
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Dani Bascom also attended West Forsyth High School and spent her service this summer at Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Her group partnered with an orphanage to make a house a home for the children there. The theme of their group was, love Jesus and be a light to the world. Bascom said it was a challenge to have no phones for more than two weeks, but she learned that love is the center of who we are and believes that “Jesus is just one prayer away.” She came to love the people in the Islands.
Bascom is no stranger to service. Last November, she created a fundraiser held in the West Forsyth High School cafeteria that she called “Cuts for Cancer.” Her goal was to raise money to donate to the charity Cancer Care. She believes it’s important to serve others, and her life shows it. She’s a senior this year doing dual enrollment at the University of Georgia and playing basketball at Fideles Christian School.