Difference In the World

I received the recent newsletter and it really got me thinking about my experience during  Hero Holiday 2005. Although I cannot go again this year I want you to know that Hero Holiday has had a huge impact on my life and the experience I had while in the Dominican is something I think about daily. I loved being a part of Hero Holiday and hope that once my life settles down I can go again. Hero holiday and LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) are such great organizations and are not only making a difference in the rest of the world but have impacted so many lives in Canada.

I will admit that I was very materialistic and didn’t realize how great I really had it until I attended Hero Holiday, you guys changed me in many ways and I want to thank you for that.

Good luck with hero holiday 2007!

Jillian, Nova Scotia

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 31st, 2006

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 29th, 2006

Video from Week 2

Footage from the second week of Hero Holiday 2006 in Dominican Republic.

Author: LiveDifferent


Hero Holiday Dominican Republic 2006 – July

In July of 2006, we once again descended upon Dominican Republic, only this time we had doubled in size! As students and leaders had returned home after their experience in 2005, the buzz began to grow, and many returned, bringing new friends with them. We had over 300 students and leaders join us again in Sosua, and once again, we worked on many new projects and made many new and meaningful friendships. We built three houses for families that were without adequate housing, and helped to give them a fresh start and the dignity to move forward. In 2006, we took on our biggest challenge to date: we built a school!

Everyday, as we would pull up in our trucks to the school work site at Arrayusacu (the village), you could hear the children shouting and singing as they came running across the fields and roads to meet the Hero Holiday team, and they were always met with non-stop hugs and laughter. During those short 14 days we met, worked among, and became a part of the lives of those families and children. Many team members were able to visit their homes and learn about what life was like in their world, because this was not just a project, this was a joining of hands to make a difference. Day after day, Canadian students worked alongside of Dominican villagers and learned about their world: their struggles, their hopes, and their dreams. We will never be the same.

For some of us who participated in 2006, one of the most humbling and life-altering experiences happened in a little orphanage in the middle of downtown Santiago. Each day, some of us had the opportunity to cross over the mountains, into the central area of the country and visit this orphanage, which was a refuge and home to about 40 physically and mentally challenged children. The orphanage was a state-run project, and had NEVER had visitors until we came. The kids there had mostly been abandoned or dropped off, or left for dead by families who were too overwhelmed by their own circumstances to be able to deal with caring for them. This little orphanage became a place where we learned so much about the value of life and dignity, as we held these children, played with them, fed them, and even changed their diapers to give the staff a break. In their eyes we could see hope and joy as we reached out to them and let them know that someone cared about who they were and that their lives held significance. As we would pull away from that special place, we were always humbled by the reality of how much we have been blessed with and how much we always receive when we give of ourselves.

Once again, as we returned to our homes, schools, and communities, we were transformed in our thinking and more resolute than ever to join together and begin to change life for those who were less fortunate.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 26th, 2006

Welcome Home

I am here visiting my parents for a few days and thought I’d jump online to see if there were any additions to the blog. Now I’m crying because I miss all your faces. I hope you all remembered to call your parents when you arrived back in Canada. (I got in trouble from my mom for not calling her!) Isn’t it strange being home? No one says “Hola” as you pass by. I’ve caught myself saying “si” instead of yes, and “gracias” instead of thank-you. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt to another culture when completely immersed in it, even for such a short time frame. Now we all see through different coloured lenses. I’ve been reading your conversations on flickr regarding the “shock” of returning to Canada, the responses of friends and family who may or may not fully understand your experience. Let me encourage you to not judge another by their reactions or actions. A few short weeks ago, wouldn’t your responses have been similar? Now that you have seen the other side of life – tasted, touched, smelled and walked in the middle of poverty – your perspective has changed. Remember what Vaden talked about in debriefing: don’t reject your own culture. We are blessed and highly favoured with a great inheritance: We are Canadian. (Or if you’re Sarah, American 🙂 We have the tools, the education, the resources and the passion to change our world. We are positioned for this time in history. Let this experience influence your everyday choices and your future. You have what it takes to make a difference on the planet. I believe in you.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 23rd, 2006

We’re Back!!!!!

Hero Holiday is back in Canada!! Everyone arrived safely at Seneca yesterday. Many of our Heroes are have already gone home, everyone else will be flying out today or tomorrow. Thank you Heroes for all your hard work, we love you all!!!

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 22nd, 2006

One more day to go…

I can’t believe this is the second to last work day. How fast did the time fly by! It’s all hands on deck – well, almost! – at the school to try to finish the walls on the second level and the roof. I went to the orphanage yesterday. We fed the kids breakfast and played with them, rubbed their backs and loved them to bits. What a difference in their responses since the first team visited last week. They are more repsponsive and smiling. It’s amazing what a little love can do! We had to pull our teary-eyed kids away when we announced it was time to go.

At the site where the pipeline is being laid, there’s been a gringo versus Dominican soccer tournament going on. The last half hour work the soccer ball comes out and it’s DR kids versus the Canadian kids. They apparently beat us shamefully two days ago, but yesterday it was a tie. Haven’t heard today’s report.

This morning we went to the dump again. It’s been a really hot day, 32 degrees with 71% humidity, according to the weather network, feels like 46 degrees. The “aroma” was stepped up a notch from the last day we went. We brought groceries this time: 100 bags of rice, 100 bags of beans and 100 bottles of oil. I think the grocery store employees were puzzled when the gringos came in to place their order! I couldn’t believe the line-up for just a simple handful of basic staples. It was heartbreaking. The need is always greater than the supply. We also ran a medical clinic at the dump today. One truck was the clinic and the other truck was the “pharmacy”. Not your average Canadian health care facility!

One more day to go. We’ll make it a good one!

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 19th, 2006

Photo! Photo!

Dear Heroes,
Thank you to those of you who have uploaded some of your photos already, when you talk to other holiday heroes, please remind them too! If you haven’t uploaded your photos yet, it is very easy to do:
1. Sign-up for flickr
2. Join the Hero Holiday photo / discussion group
3. Upload your photos
4. Click the “Organize” button in flickr and select your photos and click “send to group” to send them to our Hero Holiday group

Here is a handy link for anyone who wants to view a slideshow of the Hero Holiday photos:

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 18th, 2006


The teams were busy little bees today, especially those working on the pipeline. I heard it was A LOT of hard work digging that trench. It will be worth it to provide an entire community with a water supply. This morning we took a team to Puerto Plata Dump and brought 90 hot meals of chicken, rice and beans. We had so much fun interacting with the people even though most of us don’t understand the language. As I walked up the hill to where some of the homes were, I tried to imagine what it must be like to wake up each morning and call this place home. It’s a dump. No one should have to live here. Their homes are constructed with garbage. There is no where to get away from the smell, but yet as we visited with the people, we forgot about the smell. We sang and danced and played games. They are so poor; yet they have joy that is not determined by what they have or don’t have. It is an honour to look them in the eyes, hold their hands and call them friends.

Well, it’s after midnight and I have an early morning. I’m going to visit the orphanage tomorrow. I’ll tell you all about it later. Thank you for taking the time to post comments and encouragement. The kids love reading your messages. I post them up on the pillars in the walkway. Their families and friends don’t seem so far away. Thank you for your support and for believing in us. Hasta manana.

Author: LiveDifferent


Week Two Begins

And once again…no internet for most of the day. Apologies once again for not posting a note to say the team from Haiti returned. They came back safe and sound but very tired. It was a really long day, but I hear it was worth it. The poverty, if you can believe it, is much worse. Even the land is stripped of it’s resources. In contrast to Dominican Republic, which is lush and green, Haiti is brown and deforested. It is easier to understand why a family would walk for three days, even with babies and small children, to come to Dominican in search of hope and a better life.

The second-week people started working today. We added a new project today too. A village we did a medical clinic in last week had no water supply. Today the teams began digging a pipeline to connect this village to the main water supply. It’s about 2km. No problem! Get out the pickaxes and shovels! We’ve started on the second level of the school. It will be a race to the finish line for this one. Lots of work to be done. The three homes are coming along nicely and should be completed by the end of the week.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 16th, 2006