Hero Holiday Dominican Republic 2005 – July
July 2005 was the month we launched our first ever Hero Holiday. Destination: Sosua, Dominican Republic. During those two weeks, 150 amazing young Canadians and their adult leaders joined us and were forever changed as a result!
The DNA for Hero Holiday was established that summer, as we built houses for some families who were trapped in extreme poverty, and spent many days working with the poor and displaced people of Dominican Republic. In many ways, all of the participants began to see hope in a new light, and we believe that a rich and strong foundation was laid for the future of what Hero Holiday will become. Our hearts were captured by the friends we made and the faces we can never forget. We began to get a glimpse of what can be accomplished when we take a risk and give of ourselves: you always get back way more! We had the privilege of meeting the families that we had built the houses for, learning about what life is like for people such as them in their country, and being able to lend a helping hand when they needed it the most. As a group, we sweat together, cried together, and laughed more than we ever thought was possible, as we spent time with the village children, worked together on the projects. One of our major projects in 2005 was the digging of a trench that literally brought, for the first time, fresh water to the village that we were working in. The laughter and the tears of joy came freely that afternoon, as we joined in celebration with the children and adults who lived there to celebrate the life-giving gift of clean water.
For many, one of the biggest highlights (and what consequently became an urban legend!) was the day that we took food and supplies to the Haitian refugees living in the Puerto Plata garbage dump. None of us will ever be able to forget the assault on our senses as we entered the dump that day: the smoke and stench of burning garbage, the shacks and shelters built there in the midst of the piles of garbage, and the quiet strength and dignity of the amazing people that lived there. Their lives and stories so impacted us, that as we got ready to leave that day, the Hero Holiday participants began to spontaneously take off their shoes and extra clothes and give them away. The truth was that we were all compelled to want to do more: to leave something with these people to remind them that we will always carry them in our hearts, and that we would work to make this world a better and safer place for all of us.
That day, as our bus pulled away from that garbage dump, we knew that we could never be the same, and that a cause had truly been placed in our hands and had taken root in our hearts.
As a result, lifetime friendships were forged in these experiences, and we began to see a grassroots network of young Canadians who were going to become an unstoppable force of change and hope in our global community!