St Lucia, the tiny Caribbean nation, is mostly know for its beautiful mountain scenery and its breath-taking beaches. But it is also a place where many people live in poverty and gangs roam the streets. 33 year-old Greg was one of their members, before he decided that helping people is his true purpose. Here is the story how he became a St John volunteer.

“I started working in construction for my brother,” Greg remembers, “but I was never happy there”. Growing up as one of five sons of a single mother and without a father, life was not easy for the family. His elder brother had to stop going to school to provide for his siblings. In search for stability and appreciation, Greg eventually turned to a street gang: “It was easy for me to gravitate to them; The brotherhood gave me the support I needed. I did some very unsavoury staff. As a member of the gang, I was indirectly a ‘taker of life’.”

One day, Greg met a St John staff member through a friend. “I was already moving away from the gang, because I realised there is something wrong about it.” But leaving was not that easy. “When I was coming out of this gang, I was trying to find myself all over again. I was nothing, I had no mission, I was confused.”

Greg became involved with St John. "The organisation is the avenue which opened up my future to me.

St John is a haven, where I am not judged by my past.

I have tattoos, I have piercings. This is a taboo in our culture. When you have those things, you get profiled; either you are a prisoner or a bad boy. But for St John or anyone involved, this has never been an issue.”

Today, Greg has been a St John volunteer for more than seven years. He mostly teaches first aid, to teachers, school children and professionals such as staff at emergency units or emergency responders. “We even teach nurses and prisoners.” Being able to help people and passing on this knowledge to young people is what matters most for Greg:

We all can be victims of circumstances. What if something happens to you, and there is one person out of a hundred who can help? Having someone around you who is competent enough to save your life, wouldn’t that be a comforting idea?

This knowledge in first aid already turned Greg into a real life-saver. “I was having a good time with my friends, and we stopped for some drinks in the town where I live”, he remembers. “Suddenly, I heard a gun shot. This man was walking there, and he was shot in the abdomen and nobody was helping him. He was confused and was already going into shock. Instantaneously, all my training just kicked in and I helped him; I introduced myself, I asked for permission to help him and then I kept him calm. I was treating the shock and the wound until the emergency services came to take over.”

Being a volunteer with St John has given Greg a new direction for his life. “St John is moulding you as a holistic individual. The organisation has shown me that I can do better and has taught me to be a good individual, a helpful individual, a calm individual. As a Christian organisation, St John shows you ethics, it shows you empathy, it shows you that this is not necessarily about you. It takes away you being a selfish individual.”