SALT LAKE CITY — About a month ago a parishioner at Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church made a humanitarian trip to the Philippines.
Jeffrey Dahdah, who graduated this year from East High School with a 3.94 GPA, joined the humanitarian group Youth Making a Difference. For the past year he worked hard to raise funds to be able to help kids in the Philippines.
"We donated the money [he raised $3,700] to one of the schools that we visited over there," Dahdah said. "We were also able to build a water line for one of the schools."
Driven to help people outside the United States who do not have the same opportunities as Americans, Dahdah wanted especially to help children in less-developed countries.
"I was born in a really good situation, and these kids don’t have the same opportunities that we have," said Dahdah, who had to pass several interviews before being accepted by the humanitarian group for the trip, which included 25 youth and eight adults from all over Utah.
His Catholic faith has always been present in everything he does.
"I remember when I was confirmed talking about compassion and that word got stuck in me," he said. A part of him was transformed and now he thinks about that powerful word every day; it has been reflected in his way of acting.
"I feel compassion for the people that were not born here. I always try to stay compassionate and think about the people that were not that well off as others," said Dahdah, who is always looking for opportunities to help.
He was vice president of his senior class and will be attending Colorado State University, majoring in statistics, but this trip to the Philippines marked him for his future.
"I fell in love with the kids over there," Dahdah said. "They were just so sweet and I really wanted to help more people."
Youth Making a Difference is a yearlong leadership-training program for teens, he explained.
It is a Utah non-profit organization that prepares high school-aged students to provide service to less fortunate children in countries such as India and the Philippines. Participation in YMAD requires significant commitment. There are about 21 leadership training meetings during a 10-month period. The expedition itself is typically two weeks. High school-aged teens from the Wasatch Front may apply during their junior year to participate in training, and prepare for an expedition that would take place over the Thanksgiving break or spring break of their senior year.