Pursuing Your Passions Assembly – 11/18

Speakers at the “Pursuing Your Passion” assembly (from left to right, Max Terraciano, Mrs. Al Hartman, Tom Lamonte, Will Heffernan, Dr. Al Hartman, Aidan Philbrick)

Speakers at the “Pursuing Your Passion” assembly (from left to right, Max Terraciano, Mrs. Al Hartman, Tom Lamonte, Will Heffernan, Dr. Al Hartman, Aidan Philbrick)

Joseph Marchese, Staff Writer

This Monday, November 18th, Oratory Prep was lucky enough to have Dr. and Mrs. Al Hartman come in and talk to students about their work in eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland). The theme of the assembly was “Pursuing Your Passion,” and as the students learned, traveling to eSwatini and helping residents of the country who are much less fortunate has been a passion of the Hartmans for quite some time. Not only did they explain the history of the country and give vivid details about its traditions, culture, and inhabitants, but they also explained how exactly they pursued their passion of helping others. 

Before they spoke, however, three OP (juniors) students came up and talked about their own passions. First, Will Heffernan spoke about his passion of helping others. He spoke about the OP blood drive he helped organize, various service clubs at OP, and other opportunities that Oratory has granted him to help him make a difference in his community and the world. Next, Thomas Lamonte took the stage speaking about his passion of leading the Operation Smile club at Oratory. He spoke about all the amazing things the organization has allowed him to do (for example, going on out-of-country service trips) and how amazing he feels when he sees the difference he is able to make by supporting the organization. Finally, Aidan Philbrick came up and spoke about his passion for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The largest blood cancer research organization in the nation, Aidan explained that LLS is constantly funding new tests and research in hopes of finding a cure for blood cancers. Following Aidan’s presentation, Max Terraciano took the stage and introduced his aunt and uncle, the Hartmans, to speak about eSwatini. 

After introducing themselves, Max’s aunt and uncle immediately began speaking about the country of Eswatini, which was formerly known as Swaziland but whose name was recently changed by the country’s king. Yes, king. eSwatini is the only country in Africa that is still an absolute monarchy, meaning the king has complete power over the nation. The king recently changed the country’s name in order to mark the 50th year anniversary of its independence from Great Britain. eSwatini, however, is still a third world country, with the population being only slightly above one million people. 

eSwatini is about the size of New Jersey (in terms of land, not people). The majority of the people in the country are living in poverty, without running water, electricity, or any of the many luxuries most of society in the United States enjoys. Mrs. and Dr. Hartman explained that most people live in huts, many of which are made simply of clay and other raw materials and do not even have windows. Additionally, running water is virtually non-existent for most of the population, so they are forced to walk long distances, sometimes even miles to acquire “clean” water. Many inhabitants have little to no clothes and/or shoes as well. 

Mrs. and Dr. Hartman explained that they are both in the medical field and loves helping people in the United States, but always had the urge to do a little something extra. Before Dr. Hartman went to eSwatini, however, Mrs. Hartman went. Starting all the way back in 2001, Mrs. Hartman had the simple goal of making a difference. Hooking up with some relief organizations in the country, namely Hope Alive 268, Mrs. Hartman made it her goal to help the people of eSwatini in any way she could, though specifically through medical care, since that’s what she knew the best. 

Later on, when Dr. Hartman began coming to Eswatini as well, he did the same thing. Mrs. and Dr. Hartman, being experts in the field of medicine, started organizing what supplies should be brought over to the country and immediately started going around helping those who needed it most. Whether it was tending to wounds, administering morphine or other drugs, or even teaching people of eSwatini how to tend to the sick themselves, the Hartman’s did as much as they could to help and still are.

In fact, the Hartman’s now go to eSwatini six months at a time. With Hope Alive 268, they drive around giving out all types of supplies including everything from medical advice to shoes to lollipops to those living in the impoverished country. They are truly pursuing their passion of making a difference in the lives of those living in eSwatini. 

Another main point of the presentation was education, something Max Terraciano took a special interest in. Many kids in the country simply want to go to school, but it is not always possible. Many times families simply cannot afford to send their children to school, but Max wanted to change this. Selling t-shirts at OP, Max is raising money to help children in eSwatini go to school, something that is often their greatest wish. OP has shown an overwhelming support for this cause as well, donating over $795 to the cause already and hopefully even more over the next few days.