Eight questions for our Mary’s Meals musician!

While growing up in one of Haiti’s poorest and most dangerous slums, Jimmy enjoyed Mary’s Meals every day he attended school. Now, he works with our partner in Haiti, helping other children to fulfil their potential.
Introducing Jimmy…

Back to all stories | Posted on 07 Dec 2016 in Blog

The talented Jimmy from Haiti is one of the people featured in our film, Generation Hope. As a child, Jimmy received Mary’s Meals in school and now works with our partner organisation in Haiti, Hands Together, helping other children into education and towards a brighter future. 
Recently, he performed at the International Youth Festival in Medjugorje, a pilgrim town in Bosnia-Herzegovina which inspired our founder Magnus to first begin delivering international aid. We asked Jimmy about his life, his trip and of course, Mary’s Meals!

What is life like in Cité Soleil? 
It is the most dangerous place in Haiti. There is murder, gunshots every day and a lot of violence. I was born and grew up in that place – it was hard. But from that situation, I learned how to build my future and be of use to my community. With the help of Mary’s Meals, I was able to change my life. I couldn’t have done it if Mary’s Meals did not feed me – because one of the biggest problems in my community is hunger. Many people are involved in bad activities and gangs because of hunger. It took me out of that situation so I can be a better man. 

There are a lot of good things in Haiti too. We have a lot of good young people – there are so many like me who choose to go a different way. 
How has Mary’s Meals impacted your life? 
Imagine you were born into a very poor family, in a very poor country and in the poorest area of that country – it is almost impossible for you to realise your dreams and take yourself out of that situation. Mary’s Meals played a big role in my life and it is not only me – there are thousands of children it is doing the same thing for.  
It is easy to get involved with gangs, but I went to school. That was something good in my life because I had a place where those guys couldn’t find me to use me in that way. 
You need something to keep you in school too. Sometimes you are hungry so you want to go home and cannot listen to what the teacher is saying. But I had a chance because Mary’s Meals was providing food. It was like the heart and soul of the school because it was the one thing that kept the students learning. 
What was it like being part of Generation Hope? 
I didn’t know it would be so huge – I began to realise when I saw the film for the first time. You helped me in that film to identify myself, to know exactly who I am. I was not afraid to talk about my situation; I was not afraid to talk about misery.  
It helped me to focus on my future and every day I say to myself: ‘I have to use the gift that Mary’s Meals put into me’. It helps the school too because we play the film so the children can be inspired. 
This isn’t something you often see from someone in Cité Soleil – so if this could happen, the other young people can realise that it’s not a matter of your colour, your size, shape or where you’re from. It’s all about who you are. 
What are your own hopes for the future? 
My mother wanted me to be a doctor or a pastor. I am thinking about going to university but really, being a pastor or a doctor is not only about studying medicine or theology – it is all about making people feel good. And I realised that I can do that through music.  
What are your ambitions for Haiti?  
I hope we can involve the young people more, and use what we have to change our country. They shouldn’t say, ‘OK, I’m doing this for you’. They should ask the young people and say, ‘let’s do this together for our own country’. I think if they let the youth get involved, we will do much more. My hope for Haiti is that one day we can say – ‘we wanted to do this, it was hard, but we made it’. 
Was your visit to the International Youth Festival your first time in Medjugorje? 
It was my first trip out of Haiti. It is very far and I was nervous, but I was so happy when I arrived there and saw the people. There were so many young people involved in things which was wonderful – it was one of the best experiences of my life.  
What was it like recording in the studio in Medjugorje? 
I couldn’t believe it was so huge – there was lots of equipment and professional people. It was the first time in my whole life I had been in a studio like that.  
All the musicians at the festival agreed to play with me and record the songs. They got one of the best producers in Croatia to come and work with me – that was amazing. It was our first time playing together, so I didn’t even think we would be able to record one song but we managed two.  
Did you enjoy performing with the Youth Festival Orchestra?  
We didn’t plan it, but they began – little by little – to play with me until it was this big sound and I stopped playing the guitar and just sang. I really enjoyed that moment.  
It was my first time playing with a band like that and being in front of a big crowd. I was shy and nervous but I tried to forget about everything, to just be me and join the people. It was the best moment of my whole life being on stage and being with people from all around the world.

Jimmy features in our inspiring new film Generation Hope. Watch the trailer and request your FREE screening pack below.

Help us tell the world about Generation Hope