When Howard Passes emailed me about the charitable work of his international fraternal organisation, I hadn’t realized that brotherhoods, such as these, extended so far across the globe, so far beyond the years of college. The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (known as both the RAOB or the Buffs) is “a brotherhood or society of men from all social and economic backgrounds who hope to come together for the sole purpose of not only making themselves better men, but also trying to better those with whom they come in contact,” their website states.

In an email to the Cyprus Mail, the RAOB announced that, last Friday, they made it possible for 50 refugee children (and their teachers) from the Ukrainian School in Limassol to attend a waterpark for the day. To make the outing possible, the RAOB generously footed the bill.

Although they are not a charity, the RAOB is charitable — so much so that, within the Cypriot lodge of the RAOB, one committee works with the sole purpose of planning fundraisers. This committee, Holiday of a Lifetime, has been around for about 50 years. In this amount of time, Holiday of a Lifetime has planned many charitable events that bring underprivileged children to Cyprus for an experience that they could not afford on their own—an experience that the RAOB hopes they will never forget.

Founded in 1822, the RAOB began in London, though many lodges have, as Passes puts it, “mushroomed outwards” to countries where Britain has held colonies or other significant influence, such as Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Middle East, India, Africa, Gibraltar, and, of course, Cyprus.

Like other RAOB members, Passes joined the fraternity, hoping to give back to others. Having recently retired to Cyprus, he, at the time, found himself craving more social outlets, especially because his body wasn’t allowing him to spend as much time scuba diving—his favorite pastime.

Now, Passes, along with his fellow Buffs, meet once a week to discuss business. “It’s good fun,” he emphasised. “We have a drink. We talk, and we plan agendas for upcoming fundraisers,” which have, in the past, included crazy events such as road racing, skydiving, and royal balls. “We will plan anything to get people to a function,” he laughed.

Passes said that the Buffs once funded trips for underprivileged children more frequently. Before Covid, Holiday of a Lifetime was even able to raise enough money to fly school groups from countries as far away as England or Ireland.

When I asked Passes about what moves him to keep giving back, his voice softened. “Seeing the children enjoy themselves can make even the hardest person melt,” he told me. “It’s worth every penny. That is what spurs us on—seeing how the kids react. That is what keeps us going, and we love it.”

“We are simply the vehicles of finance,” he simplified. “We raise money so that we can offer experiences exactly like this one. Why keep giving back? I think it’s nothing more than we enjoy it.”