Justin Bieber didn’t come from money, but is now a very extremely rich, privileged individual.
Opening up about a “wake up call” visit to help build a school with locals in a poverty-stricken Guatemalan community and the Pencils of Promise international education organization, the singer shared a video about his experience titled “Guatemala Video Confession: Giving is the best.”
In what was evidently an emotive trip to the school-building site, Bieber described it as “one of the most magical days” of his life,” because he was able to “make a difference” with his “own hands” for the impoverished villagers he met in the Guatemalan jungle.
Justin is currently on the Latin America leg of his Believe tour and performed a Saturday gig in Guatemala. Like a lot of westerners, shocked by the extreme poverty seen in developing countries, the contrast between his life of uber wealth and that of “10 people living in a little shack” (as the singer described it) appears to have triggered a profound perspective shift.
“It was just a wake up call for me,” Bieber began. “It was like anything, any problem that I have, it’s nothing, it’s nothing at all because these kids they have absolutely nothing.”
He added, “They have, you know, no food, no water, no education and yet we’re stressing over the little things and they’re so happy — they’re just so happy.”
In frank, tumbling, speech the “Heartbreaker” star described the feeling of being able to help build the school as “the best selfishness possible” because “I’m doing this because it makes me happy.” He added the school would also help a lot of “amazing people.”
Recalling a young girl (Shelley) he met at the building site, Bieber said they had a “instant great connection,” as a picture of the child flashed on screen.
TMZ reports the singer was choppered into the village and got stuck into helping the villagers and Pencils of Promise team build a wall of the school. The teen star also removed his own shoes and gave them to one of the local children.
At one point, the 19-year-old admits, “My eyes were just opened to just something brand new” and seemed most struck by his part in “hands-on building a school for these children that wouldn’t have [otherwise] had [the] opportunity.”
Toward the end of the video, Justin signed off by thanking his fans and urging them to also aim to “make a difference” in their lives.
Pencils of Promise is a non-profit educational organization founded in 2008 by Bieber’s manager’s (Scooter) brother, Adam Braun. It builds schools and increases educational opportunities in three countries — Laos, Nicaragua, and Guatemala — with a focus “giving every child” an education.
The organization has drawn praise for its work, notably raising $33,000 in Ghanian schools, but it was recently criticized by a showbiz website claiming its travel and salaries expenses exceeded its grant giving according to a 2011 tax filing. The report did say the company was fulfilling its mandate.
Back in July, it was announced that for each ticket sold in 30 additional shows added to the North America leg of Bieber’s Believe tour, $1 from each ticket would be donated to Pencils of Promise.
Pencils of Promise also hosts an annual Justin Bieber-supported Schools 4 All fund-raising campaign.
This year it teamed up with the nonprofit Public Foundation, which specializes in donating millions of dollars’ worth of unused advertising spots to charities. Billboard reports that as a result of their partnership, PoP raised $400,000 to build new schools in struggling countries.
Bieber’s work with PoP runs alongside sizable outreach efforts with Child Hunger Ends Here, the Make-A-Wish Foundation (where the singer holds the highest musician wish-granter record), ongoing donations to the Whitney Elementary School and has raised funds with the parents of the late Avalanna Routh for child brain cancer (AT/RT) research.
Today was 1 of the most powerful and humbling days of my life. Thank u Guatemala & @PencilsOfPromis. Today I saw real happiness. So powerful
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) October 28, 2013
Justin helping to build a school first hand in Guatemala (October 27th, 2013) pic.twitter.com/2z64lTwPQs
— BelieveTourUpdates™ (@BelieveTUpdates) October 28, 2013