The Realization

It’s the last night.  Hero Holiday is my very first trip outside of North America and right now I’m not even sure I can adequately put into words what this experience has been for me.  As I re-read that statement, I am again reminded that this trip really isn’t about me, but about each and every person we meet down here.

 Every night each team has a “debriefing” about their day where everyone has a chance to talk about what each experience has taught them or how it has re-defined what life is really about.  Tonight was the last debrieifing in our separate teams.  As I sat back and looked around at each of my team members (who completely rock my world!! … go Glen’s Gringas -2A .. and 2B), I was in awe.  Even though each of us are from different countries, cities and towns, ethnic backgrounds, life experiences, and families, we can all put those things aside for 10 crazy-amazing days and change the lives of thousands of people!

Today, I had the privilege to re-visit a village called Congrejo.  It’s a poverty-stricken village right off of the highway.  As I walked through the village again, I was wrecked!  The people here are so genuine – they give you what little they have .. with their whole hearts.  One of the groups I took to the village today sang for some of the village kids and they returned the favour with gusto.  They were dancing and singing to a CD.  I closed my eyes for a minute and was taken to a different place where dignity was extended without reserve – where it didn’t matter if you were on the lucky end of the “opportunity stick.”  I watched these kids’ little faces, and wanted to be the person who stands beside them, cheering them on … telling them that there is no limit to their dreams and to make sure nothing, not even current situations, crush their hopes.  I now realize that I can still be that person.

Canada, the Dominican Republic, Denmark, England, etc. – these are just countries, places.  They should not limit our potential or dictate whether or not we can make a difference.  In fact, rather than try to persuade people to change the world, let’s “be the change we want to see in the world” (Ghandi).  Thank you Hero Holiday for allowing me to see the world and begin the change.


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 23rd, 2007

Digging for Hope

Picture 4 One of the things that we do with the Hero Holiday in Dominican Republic is to go to a dump. Christal has been leading the teams that go out there, bringing food and clean water to the Haitian refugees who work there.

The refugees sort through the garbage for plastic bottles, collect them in bags that are weighed and they are paid per bag. They also separate the food, put it in a different bag and take it home for a sort of nourishment. With all their hard work in these deplorable conditions, they make about $1 a day.

My first response was disgust. Not at the people or their lives, but with myself and western culture. We consume so much and generate so much waste…and these people sort through it, looking for income, for food…really, looking for hope. Looking through my garbage, looking for hope. All I wanted to do was to get a bag and start digging myself; I wanted to do something immediately that changed their situation. Not that the $1 a day I would earn could change the conditions of their lives.

I can’t do their work for them. I don’t think they would want me to. It is not work that any person would want to do except for survival. I can’t say to them the empty words that everything will be alright. How do you give encouragement or comfort to someone in that situation? I can’t tell them to work a little harder and their luck will change. It is unimaginable that they will be able to change their lives. I don’t know if they earn enough to feed their families; I know they can’t nourish them. They earn $1/day. And the school in their village costs $16/month ($500 Dominican pesos) for each child. Why would I talk to them about the importance of education? They already know that, but they can’t afford that important part of life.

But I can give them respect and accept them unconditionally where they are…which leads to us being able to do so much more with them. Not for them, but with them, empowering them as opposed to enabling them. Tell me, what keeps them going, day after day, after day? Is it hope? They came here from Haiti in hope of a better life. And they found it in a garbage dump. This life is better than life in Haiti. Whoever thought hope would be in garbage? How would I react if I was living their lives? Not with hope. Can I give them more hope? I can’t promise them anything, but I know that hope should not be found digging in a dump. I know there is something more we can do, and what is within our power and imagination, we will do. Until we can accomplish that, I think of their hope.

~Becky Roberts

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 22nd, 2007

Some new pics!

School Project 1

The walls of the clinic

Picture 48

The Fence Trench

Picture 45

Digging the Trench

Picture 181

Upstairs Classrooms

Picture 49

School Project 2

Picture 35

Picture 34

The Dump

Picture 71

Picture 64

Hackey Sack

Tag, You're It!

The Orphanage

Picture 110

Picture 101

Picture 146

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 20th, 2007

Dominican Phones

Hi Everyone,

We had a spectacular light show here a couple of nights ago in the form of a thunderstorm. As a result, our phones here at the resort are not currently functioning. If you are unsuccessful in calling your kids, this would be why. However, as random as it may seem, we have great internet access, so if you need to contact us, that would be the way to go 🙂

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 18th, 2007

Participant Blog: With Eyes Wide Open…

The Keychain Yesterday I was at the Sosua dump and it was a major eye-opening. All the garbage from all the hotels and people living in the Sosua area ends up here. Haitian refugees also end up here. They say that its better living and working in this dump than trying to survive in their own country that is stricken with even greater poverty.


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 17th, 2007

The Best Meal Ever

I love to feed people. My friends can tell you that! It’s my favourite thing to do. However, a couple of days ago, I helped serve the best meal of my life. There was no china, no silverware, no fine tablecloth or linen napkins.

We have been working in a village is tucked away on a narrow dirt road with pot holes larger than life. Random chickens will bring your vehicle to a sudden halt because you know that if you kill one, you’ve just ruined dinner for a family of twelve. At the bottom of a hill lies the school that we built last summer and are continuing to work on this year. As we pulled up, all the little kids were wearing their blue school uniforms. They cheered as each of our trucks pulled up – this was the goodbye party for week 1 participants and community wanted to show their appreciation. It was humbling because I was the one who wanted to cheer for them. They are the survivors. They are my heroes. All the little boys had their hair slicked down with water that lasted all of 10 minutes and the girls were decorated in all manner of hair ribbons and bows. Tonight we celebrate life and family and friends. I couldn’t help but notice the lack of elders. It was a stark reminder that life is harsh here. Old age comes to only a few. I wondered if this generation will live to see their children’s children. This is my prayer.

The kids all assembled in an impromptu choir and sang us songs with much enthusiasm. A few of them, through our interpreter, thank our team for giving them a school. By this time I am choking back tears because we all understand the valuable gift of education that has been given. There will not be any, “Do I HAVE to go to school today?” complaints from these little ones.

Then came the pig roast! The little kids were wide-eyed as they brought this roasted pig out on a pole and laid it on the table. (Apologies to all you vegetarians out there!) We brought fresh buns from the local panadaria, fresh melon, pineapple and papaya and fed the community. As I was standing behind the table serving the food, there were two guys beside me chopping up the meat with machetes – yes, real machetes – it was great! Across from me was a local Dominican woman and together we handed out plates of food. I was thinking how the barriers of race, language and culture had disappeared when we came together to serve. I watched how our students interacted with the community, not as onlookers, not as mere acquaintances but as friends. When it was time to go, the tears began to fall. As I hugged one elderly lady I could feel strength radiating from her, produced from a life where determination and extreme perseverance is necessary simply for survival. In that brief moment I felt honoured to be in that place. I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be.




Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 15th, 2007

Thank you Stephanie & Jessica

Last summer during Hero Holiday we were privileged to have two great girls join us: Stephanie and Jessica. Love the cowboy hats! Earlier this year, they contacted me about doing a fundraiser for the project this summer in Dominican. They couldn’t be here physically this year, but they still wanted to something. Recently, a letter showed up at our office:

Dear LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute),
This is a cheque to go to Hero Holiday. [We] had the opportunity to attend Hero Holiday 2006. This trip truly changed our lives. When we came back to school in September, we were both driven to do something for the world. We decided to have a fundraiser for all the people we met last summer. Our school raised $1478.64. Now we would like to give you our cheque to go to a worthy place to help make lives of individuals better.

Stephanie and Jessica, we would like to publicly thank you for taking the time to make a difference. You didn’t go home after Hero Holiday and do nothing but took a stand for a cause and put your words into actions. When you see the pictures of all those kids on our website, remember that it is because of people like you that they have hope for a better future. Thank you.

These are the kids in their school uniforms singing us a song saying thank you for their school.

Author: LiveDifferent


Participant Blog: The Only Difference is Geography

DSCF4792Have you ever had one of those days that left your head spinning? Wednesday, July 4 2007 has changed me forever. As we were pulling up to the dump in town I thought I would be more prepared for what was to come since I had been there twice before, but I was wrong. A fellow student leader, Rana and I were walking around attempting to say hello in as many languages as we could, since the people working there are such scholars and usually know at least 4 other languages. “Hola, bonjour, salut…hello?” We were also trying to deal with the fact that we were standing in ‘whoknowswhat’ but realizing that as soon as we got back on that bus we could come back and clean off made it a lot easier.

We were walking around handing out fresh glasses of agua (water) to the workers and one particular ladies story opened my eyes. While rummaging through waste-deep piles of rubbish, she told us that she generally is able to collect 7 or 8 garbage bags full of bottles a day and she earns around 5 pesos per bag with which she supports her family. Once we calculated it and realized that this woman is surviving on around $1.00 a day, I couldn’t help thinking “this could be me.” The only thing that separates us is where I was born.

Later that same day we were invited to a small village nearby, where most of these workers live, because they were having a special church service, and small group of us decided to go. Upon arrival I made two very special amigas, a mother and her 3 year old daughter. At the service, while my new amiga was sitting on my lap and the pastor was welcoming all the “gringos” as brothers and sisters, I again thought that the only explanation for why I’m not in their dire situation is geography. But at that moment we were all the same. That little girl proved to me that despite what seems like the most desperate of situations you can still laugh and live and love. I fell in love with her on this day and will never be able to forget her gorgeous eyes looking up at me. I will never forget that I was created with a purpose, to make a difference in someone else’s life. To use what I have been blessed with to bless others.

Since Wednesday, everytime I close my eyes I have not been able to forget the feelings I had on that day. The friendships I made on that day. And the peace God gave me on that day.

~Krissie, student leader from Ontario

*All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not neccesarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 14th, 2007

Photo Upload Instructions

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 appropriate Hero Holiday flickr group (example: Hero Holiday 2007 Dominican Republic photo / discussion group)

3. Upload your photos

4. Click the “Organize” button in flickr and select your good photos and click “send to group” to send them to our Hero Holiday group.

Your photos will automatically appear on our website in the DR 2007 group in our photos section

Author: LiveDifferent


Hero Holiday Trip Two

The team has arrived! Can’t wait to meet them all. (They are all sound asleep at the moment!) Looking forward to a great 10 days…

Author: LiveDifferent