The honorable scout
Luis Antonio Herrera with community in El Salvador
What would you buy at the age of 14 if you had two-thousand dollars? If you were Luis Antonio Herrera, you would use that money to improve a daycare center in a poverty-striken town in El Salvador.
While working to become an Eagle Scout in Lilburn, Georgia, Luis raised $2,000 to better the lives of children in his parents' native country. This work helped me become one of the youngest boys in the United States to receive the Eagle Scout rank at fifteen. The median age for the honor is 17.
"I decided that to earn my Eagle Scout badge I would get a playground built for the kids in San Cayetano Istepeque, in the State of San Vicente, in Central El Salvador. Once I introduced the idea, I got the approval from the Scouts within two days. The daycare has very few financial resources. I raised more money than expected, so I decided to use the funds to get the whole ground leveled, the front and back of the building landscaped, and all the interior and exterior walls painted," Luis says.
Since he was a very young boy himself, Luis had observed the needs at the facility up close. His mom, Clarita Herrera, said they would often take Luis and his siblings there every year to volunteer and help around the daycare sweeping floors and other chores. Of course, they would also spend time playing with the children.
Luis got the local community engaged to complete the work at the daycare center along with Scouts from a Salvadoran troop to which his father belonged when he was young.
"It was so touching to witness how the whole community got involved and they were all carrying building bricks or whatever was needed. Luis is an entrepreneurial kid- and very persistent, I must say. We wanted him to have this experience of leadership. We were there to support him and guide him and also be his cheerleaders along the way. He surpassed everyone's expectations." adds Mrs. Herrera.
Surpassing expectations seems to be Luis's life motto. He is an avid runner so when he was in Middle School and found out that the school did not have a track team, he started one. He also has a black belt in Karate and then became part owner and teacher of the school where he earned it.
"Karate is not work for me. It is part of my life. I don't need to get paid for it. My karate teacher passed away in 2010 and his son and I were the only two kids who had the black belt category needed to teach. My teacher was such an amazing man! Along with my father, the two have been the most influential men in my life," says Luis.
The daycare project took two years for Luis to get it off the ground and complete. Now he says that he feels relieved and proud that he achieved his goal alongside family and friends who always believed that he would deliver.
"My friends tease me by saying, is there anything that you haven't done? I believe that Karate has taught me discipline. The more that you learn, the more wisdom you gain, with that wisdom you can apply knowledge. Each person is made different by God and He knows that he would not give you hardships that you cannot deal with. You have to stay true to wisdom," Luis says.
Viviana is a multiplatform freelance journalist for various media outlets around the world. For over fifteen years, Viviana was a leading producer, anchor and reporter for CNN En Español. In the year 2008, Viviana was awarded with an Honorable Mention from the CNN Heroes Initiative for her efforts to better the life of people with Down Syndrome in Nepal. Her ten year old son is her inspiration to continue trying to make a difference for children with disabilities. Viviana practices yoga, loves hiking, animals and reading anything she can devour.