New Leader Spotlight:
Helping the world, one book at a time.
Michael Bervell is just like any other teenager – with hobbies like playing soccer and jazz music – but what separates him from his peers is his inspiration to help others. It’s this passion that drove him to create Hugs for Ghana, a student-led organization aimed at raising support and supplies for children in Ghana.
How It All Started
“In December of 2013, I traveled to Ghana to hand-deliver more than $20,000 worth of sports supplies that I collected during May 2013,” Michael says. “While in Ghana, I traveled to four different schools and established eight school soccer teams. One thing I noticed, however, is that none of the schools I went to had a library or many books in their under-developed libraries.”
Seeing the opportunity, Michael started a book drive in his school, and also enlisted three friends from nearby schools to do the same. “Ultimately, the three of us collected more than 4,000 children’s books, coloring books, chapter books and even a full multi-book encyclopedia set from the students at our schools,” he says.
His Most Memorable Moment
Michael’s philanthropy goes beyond book donations – he’s also helped deliver clothing and sporting equipment to children in Ghana, and that led to a pick-up soccer game he’ll never forget.
“As I dribbled down the field, the Nzema language filled my ears and my teammate’s cries to “tekiti” or “pass” continued to sound until, ultimately, I acquiesced. I kicked towards the goal … it was a goal! All of my teammates embraced Emmanuel and I while jubilantly shouting the same phrase “ye did ɛno!” The unbelievable fact that “we did it!” resonated with me. Though all we had done was win a simple soccer match, the moment symbolized something greater. “
It might just seem like a soccer game to some, but Michael was able to see that his actions led to a big accomplishment – and he hopes that others will take action and start helping, no matter the cause.
“My vision of a bright future is a world where people don’t feel obligated to ask for permission before doing something to help others. This is the main reason why I am fully invested in ‘Hugs for __”’projects – these creative, yet simple, student-helping-student initiatives clearly demonstrate the power of the individual. My hope is stated very well in Everett Edward Hale’s statement that “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.”
Michael’s motivation has yielded great results, and more importantly, inspired others to take part in his cause. Encouraging others to take a small step toward creating a bright future is exactly what we believe in. Through Michael’s actions and the actions of other new leaders, we’re on our way.