Bervell (far left), on his 2011 trip to Hobor Elementary School in Ghana. (Image: Hugs for Ghana)
By Britt Thorson Published: Aug 22, 2014
There seems to be something in the Washington water affecting our teenage boys. Last week we told you about 17-year-old Henry Miller from Deming, who started his own raw honey business. Today we bring you the story of 16-year-old Michael Bervell, whose desire to connect with his parent's homeland prompted him to create Hugs for Ghana, a charity out of Snohomish raising money to benefit Ghanaian youth.
Bervell, who lives in Snohomish with his parents, had the chance to visit Ghana in the summer of 6th grade. He describes his parents as two 'deeply cultural Ghanaian immigrants', so it was important to them and for him to visit their country.
"When I arrived there, it wasn't anything like I had imagined," said Bervell. "My mother’s village had no running water and only had electricity in five houses. The local school could not afford books, equipment for sports teams, or a quality library to store the few books they did have."
Upon his return, Bervell decided to take action and mobilize his fellow students and his community to help. He and his family started Hugs for Ghana, an entirely student-run non-profit organization - with Bervell as its executive director.
Today, Hugs for Ghana has nearly 100 youth volunteers, and has fundraised over $50,000 worth of material gifts and monetary donations. more