by John Reid via jacksonville.com
On his humanitarian trip to Haiti last month, Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus attended the groundbreaking ceremony on a three-classroom building that will be named after him.
He was greeted by government dignitaries and school officials and toured monuments and museums. And like last year’s trip when he met more than 800 children, Dareus was struck again by the emotions he saw.
“It is one thing to give money to something and hope for the best; it is quite something else to witness your efforts and see the gratitude and thankfulness of not just the children, but the whole community, for doing what you’re doing,” Dareus said.
″To receive their blessings and hear their words of appreciation directly was something I could have never imagined several years ago. Their gratitude and happiness was overwhelming and showed me that what I am doing is going to have a tremendous impact on their lives.″
It is the second consecutive offseason Dareus has visited Haiti to reconnect with his late father’s homeland and give back through the U.S.-based charity, Hope for Haiti, that serves as an implementing partner for school construction, teacher training, teacher salary subsidies, mobile clinics and back-to-school support for students.
Haiti is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010 and damages caused by the 145 mph winds from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Through the Dareus Foundation, he donated $125,000 to fund the three-classroom building at the Christ-Roi Primary School of Cammy.
In addition to giving the kids a new school, his monetary efforts will go to funding teachers’ salaries, school supplies and some of the necessary infrastructure to sustain education. Dareus donated $25,000 to Hope for Haiti during last year’s visit.
Dareus was 6 years old when his Haitian-born father, Jules Dareus, died from prostate cancer. His mother, Michelle Luckey, died in 2010 from heart failure shortly after Dareus won a national championship with the Alabama. Jules Dareus lived in Haiti until early adulthood before coming to the United States.
“I promised my mom that I would support Haiti in any way I could and now I am using my platform to keep my promise,″ Dareus said. ″It’s a beautiful country with incredible people and children who need help. I want to make sure I do everything I can to lift them up. This is just the beginning of what we’re looking to accomplish here. I plan to come back after next season to see the new school and decide what else I can do to continue to build a legacy of hope for Haiti.”