Teenagers Can Change the World, Too
By Briannah Schaff
At the age of 13, Alex Renaud started his journey with the charity organization Casita Linda. Nobody believed a teenager could do the seemingly impossible: climb Mount Kilimanjaro at such a young age. In doing this, he raised over US$50,000 and donated all of it to Casita Linda.
When he visited San Miguel de Allende the first time, he attended all sorts of events for the charity group. Three years later, Alex and his older brother, JP, (ages 16 and 18, respectively) were back. The brothers arrived June 4 and planned to stay for two weeks. This time, though, both of them contributed to the actual building of the houses they donated.
Many people would ask themselves what inspired these two teenagers to give so much time and effort to this cause. “My grandmother, Lorenza Dipp, is intimately involved with charities in Mexico, especially toward women’s education and rights. As my brother and I grew up, we were able to see the impact she had and wanted to be a part of it. I started small, with local charities at my school, but when the opportunity of Kilimanjaro came along, I knew it was my chance to have a bigger impact on helping others,” said Alex.
He and his brother both feel strongly about helping others in need, especially in Mexico. They wanted to make a personal impact, and Casita Linda seemed like the perfect way to make a tangible difference. They are able to change a family’s life, with the added benefit of getting to interact with them throughout the process. By getting to know these families, they learn about their triumphs and struggles throughout their lives, leaving an imprint on these communities forever.
Alex, in particular, has traveled all around the world for volunteer work. “I’ve gone to Costa Rica to organize a camp for financially disadvantaged children who worked hard at school,” he said. “Also, I went to India and Tibet to teach monks how to read and write in English. This past summer I was in Thailand and did 72 hours of community service where I built basic infrastructure for isolated villages.” Also later this month, Alex will be assisting the International Vatican Conference to discuss the impact of investing and fighting against poverty.
Very few teenagers are willing to go the distance the Renaud brothers have gone to help others in need. Even fewer are willing to open their minds to the problems around the world. Future generations don’t need to start big with their donations, like the Kilimanjaro fundraising. They could begin in their own neighborhoods with a food drive, for example. Anybody can help the world, whether they are a teenager or an adult, but only if they are willing to do it. Alex and JP are both great examples of two people willing to help. After enjoying this experience so much, the Renaud brothers are planning to come back and work on another house in the future.
Casita Linda’s mission is to provide environmentally compatible, sustainable, low cost, comfortable homes to families living in extreme poverty who reside in San Miguel de Allende. For more information, see www.casitalinda.org/en.