This year Mr. Tony Bellizzi spoke at our Black History Month Assembly ‘09 on February 9th.. He was introduced by Mr. Foley; in fact he was Mr. Foley’s eighth grade teacher. Tony is one of Mr. Foley’s heroes and the person who got him interested in youth ministry.
Mr. Bellizzi is the founder of the Hope for the Children Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to help children around the world with specific projects and events. He spoke about some of the missions he has done and showed many pictures and movies. He made these places feel real.
Ghana is Mr. Bellizzi’s favorite place and he first went there over 17 years ago. At that time he was the first white person seen in some of the villages he visited. He told us how the children thought it was so funny that he was always taking pictures that they all made toy cameras out junk and pretended to take pictures of him. In one picture they were like paparazzi crowded around him.
In 2007 Mr. Bellizzi was in Albania working with Mother Teresa’s sisters helping the poorest of the poor. He ran a summer camp there. In 2008 Tony went to Nicaragua and fed people in the dumps of the cities. He also went to the Navaho nation and ran a bible study school for children. For 2009 there are missions planned for Nicaragua, the Navaho nation, Peru, and Cambodia or East Timor.
Much of his talk centered on a trip he took to Uganda in 2007 where he stayed at a Rhino Camp, a Jesuit refugee camp for people from Sudan. He told us how welcoming the Ugandans are to the refugees from Sudan. Mr. Bellizzi told us that in Africa everything is harder. He showed us poles that were needed to keep the termites away, a typical shower which is nothing more than a bucket of water to pour over your head, the mosquito netting that you had to have over your bed, and described the food they ate three times a day – ground corn meal, a ground root, and water mixed together that looks like excrement and has the texture of rubber. As a treat he ate cooked flies. He advised us that if we want to try the delicacy, be sure to remove the wings first as they are poisonous.
One of the most touching moments came when Mr. Bellizzi showed us a movie in which he gave the camera over to some young men and told them they could say anything they wanted to America. These boys were refugees from Sudan. One saw his whole family murdered, another had served as a child soldier. Despite the hardships they have seen, they spoke of how God loves them and everyone and how we should love God in return.