Metea Valley High School senior Brooke Eber enjoyed volunteering at a Christian camp in Lake Geneva the past several summers. But there was more she wanted to do. She knew there were children out there in much more dire situations.
After she graduates late this spring, she will spend a month in San Marcos, Nicaragua, interning at Keiser University. She will help coordinate the mission groups that come throughout the summer.
Through St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Naperville, Brett Adams, the youth minister, helped Brooke connect with the university. A group of students from St. Thomas has been traveling to Nicaragua for four years on mission trips.
“A lot of doors were closed because of my age,” Eber said.
Eber is counting on her faith to get her through this experience. She will travel alone to a country filled with poverty, and one where Spanish is the primary language. Her four years of Spanish in high school will be tested as will her patience adapting to a foreign place.
“I’m nervous for the moment I step off the plane in Nicaragua and I look around (and) have no idea what to do,” she said. “But I have a sense of peace about what to do.”
For her parents, they are nervous but supportive.
“I had gotten comfortable with her being gone (for the summers),” said Brooke’s mother, Dawn. “I have been to Haiti, and I know it’s such an awakening to see other parts of the world. I’m really proud of what she’s doing. She’s smart and mature.”
Brooke will take four packed bags filled with clothing for orphanages. Shipping clothing to Central America isn’t fiscally feasible, and dealing with customs can be too much of a challenge.
Recently the orphanages began administering the Catholic sacraments, and she wanted the girls there to have the same experience she did with a dress.
“As a little girl, I was so excited to get my First Communion dress,” she said, wanting the girls in Nicaragua to have that as well.
She is seeking gently used clothing for children, both boys and girls, ages 7 to 15.
“They don’t have the resources to have multiple outfits,” she said.
“They have one of everything.”
She is requesting extra large shirts, shoes and already has amassed a collection of basketball shorts.
She suggests contributing new underwear because it’s not something often donated.
Once the four bags are filled, she will use any financial donations so the orphanages can support their economy and purchase clothes locally.
Brooke and her Naperville counterparts will most likely not see each other while each is in Central America.
Brooke will be in Nicaragua from June 14 to July 16, and the St. Thomas group will leave when she is returning to Naperville.
Still Adams looks forward to hearing about what Brooke experiences.
“She will see a more extended level of poverty (than) we have seen on our trips there,” he said.
“She is someone in a great place with her faith to do something like this.”