Justin Bieber Helps Build School in Guatemala

The singer, along with charity Pencils of Promise, lay the foundation for a new primary school in Guatemala

Photo: Kevin Mazur/AMA2012/WireImage

There’s no question that Justin Bieber has had his share of controversy this year, but giving back is what ultimately matters most to the pop star.

On Oct. 27, the 19-year-old traveled to a remote village in Guatemala with the organization Pencils of Promise, a charity he’s long supported that builds primary schools in developing countries like Nicaragua, Laos, Guatemala and Ghana.

And he didn’t just watch: He helped sift concrete, lay down cinder blocks, and spent time playing with the children who will one day attend the school. “He developed a genuine connection with the kids there,” says Adam Braun, the charity’s founder and brother of Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun. “The children didn’t even know who he was, which was part of the beauty of the experience. He got to be himself.” Adds photographer and videographer Nick Onken, who documented the trip: “The kid loves people and deep inside, wants to help make the world a better place.”

One school costs $25,000 to build and Pencils of Promise has raised $10 million since being founded in 2008.

“This experience changed my life forever,” Bieber says of the trip. “It isn’t about me, it s about the kids, plain and simple. I’m sharing this story in hopes that the world will help me end the education crisis. I hope I can use my reach to change these kids’ lives in return.”

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