The poor will always be my heart. And justice will always be my goal.

The poor will always be my heart. And justice will always be my goal. How can I accomplish this back in Canada? I am moving back after two years of being in Mexico. Honestly, from an open heart, I am tired and I need to surround myself with the things that refresh me. I know I am not broken in that way, just worn. I am counting the days until the possibility of having my own place becomes the reality. Living in the Hero Holiday house has presented me with many personal challenges, as well as given me more unique opportunities than a lot of people will encounter in their lifetime. I am grateful for my time here and grateful to be moving on. Which leaves me in this moment. Changed, different, a whole lot better, a little bit worse, and creating a future.I am going to have my own place, with things from the countries I have visited, a few of the treasured things and memories I kept throughout the last decade and of course, smattered here and there, affordable and slightly funky items from IKEA. I am going to go to hockey games, concerts, and read English newspapers in any coffee shop in any city that I might find myself in. I will be satisfied. That is my goal. At the same time, a tension exists, because there is something inside of me that is insatiable. I know that I am wrecked for living a ‘normal’ Western life. I know it, and embrace it. I am not in anyway rejecting a lifestyle in Canada, in fact, I am looking forward to being back and everything that entails. There are things about it though, that I find unacceptable. Apathy. Complaisance. Ignorance. I know that I will have to search and find out what I can do in Canada that will appease these inner pressures. I can not go home and turn a blind eye to the poor, to the people in the world who live in injustice. I can not forget. They haunt me, push me and drive me past any selfish apathy to action.I have friend here. Next week we are building my last project here, a building for a woman’s co-op that she and nine other indigenous women have put a lot of hard work into. This woman has experienced atrocities. She grew up in extreme poverty, was exploited into child labour in forestry, was raped under the age of 10 when the sexual abuse that would continue for the next 4 years began. She shares an infinity with other women who were forced into prostitution and knows first hand how drugs can numb the pain inside of you when your only survival tactic is denial. Injustice has gripped her life, often at the hands of her own family, for her entire life. Three or four years ago she went to a rally about the rights of women and children in her community. She came home to her husband, and told him that she had to learn more about the things she had just heard. In her words: “It was like I was blind, I didn’t know anything. But I knew I must learn more.” The world can learn so much from the strength, courage and determination this woman has. The night the purchase of the property for the coop was completed, I sat in their kitchen, in a house that was built for them by a Hero Holiday team. We were discussing the day, and our conversation was lit by the smallest light bulb I have ever seen, powered by the battery of the old beater car they own, there is no electricity in their community. Over and over again they were thanking me. I tried to explain to them that it wasn’t me, that they worked hard for this, and there is one woman particularily in the Okanagan in BC had grabbed onto the cause and fundraised… these were the people to be thanked. And my friend said to me: “Yes, but you are our voice to the people in Canada.” In a situation like that, a reaction of pride would be a disgrace. I was surrounded by basic human goodness. So in three weeks I head north. To another chapter with all of this now ingrained in my being. A life, that is for the time being, based in Canada. A life that is marked with action. The faces of poverty go with me. These faces are smiling, frowning, crying, suffering, laughing. They are faces of strangers and faces of friends. And I will be their voice. How? There is some excitement in knowing that I will find out.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 17th, 2008

Trip Journal Week One, Summer Intern, Johnston

June 31 At 8:45 I boarded U.S Airways to San Diego with a layover in Las Vegas. I arrived in San Diego at 2 am, Aug 1st. I waited at the airport until 8 am when Becky and Heidi picked me up. Today I met up with the rest of the interns Simon, Derek, Lisette, Jamille, and the staff Becky, Charles, Kelsey, JP and Meagan. I’ve actually met Megan and Kelsey before; they did an LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) presentation at my school in September of last year. Oh how can I forget I met Lisette and Heidi on my first trip to Mexico last year in late August. Tonight all we did was orientation; we discussed the upcoming trip and shared a few stories and jokes. Aug 2Today was the day we got to meet all the participants, but first we interns got to go shopping at Ross. Later that day when most of the participants had finally arrived, we all had the chance to go shopping at Chula Vista Plaza. For dinner Charles ordered a couple of 28 inch pizzas. When all the participants had finally arrived, we all headed to Denny’s just for some chit chat. When all said and done, the night was finished.Aug 3I barely slept last night, I was way too excited. After we all ate breakfast we hopped on to the white school bus and headed to Mexico. We stopped between Tijuana and Ensenada to take a couple of pictures, and then we headed to Ensenada for lunch. I danced with a green lizard in Wal-Mart parking lot, hehe. After lunch we drove straight to Vicente Guerrero. When we got to our dorms, we all unpacked and had orientation later that on.Aug 4Hey its my birthday today, well Becky had to remind me, lol. Today we all got to meet the family, who in the next week we will build a house for. They are a family of five with one dog. We also got to meet a family who received a house earlier in the year. We heard their story and they learned about us. For lunch we headed to the beach where we swam, suntanned and had fun. Later the day we had debriefing. Oh I forgot I got my fingernails painted, for the first time in my life, Lakers colors of course, hey it was the girls who did it not me.Aug 5Today was a special day; today we got to start building the house. We built 4 walls and a couple of roof panels, and of course, the outhouse. Many of us got to play with the kids who were around our work site, about ten or so. One unfortunate thing that happened today was one of the girls got sick, but the good thing is she was better later that night. I hate to see someone sick especially the first day. When I got back to the dorms, I took a nap, I had done a lot of traveling before this trip in Asia. After my nap, I got my appetite back, before, I would get full from an apple. Later that night we all went to the beach where we all got to witness the sunset. I was buried in the sand, it was fun until Charles drove his truck on the beach, I almost wet myself, lol.Aug 6 Today we started to put the walls and roof up and also we started painting. Miguel brought us to his workplace where he is paid to make marble tables. These tables are worth $800 in Mexico and about $2000 in Canada, but not a lot of people where we are in Mexico can afford a table like that. After our visit we did a few touch ups on the house like roofing and tarring. Later that night a couple people headed to the church, while other drew on my face and gelled my hair so I looked like a samurai. Then we headed out in public like that to the internet cafĂ©.Aug 7Today we got to finish up the house. We put up the windows, made a 3rd room and finished painting the house and the outhouse. While we were finishing up, Miguel finished up a little project of his own, he made a dog house for his dog, Bambi. Later that night we all spent the night at the beach. It was just an incredible night. We had a Fear Factor, I lost in the first round :(, seriously who actually remembers the Canadian anthem. Hannah and I would have won if I didn’t forget the words. We also had a talent show, props to everyone who took part in the show, you guys rock. Everyone had a great time, especially Charles and Becky, lol, they got a lap dance, by who else but me. Later that night about 2 or 3 in the morning, when I was taking a pee, I found an animal leg right beside me. Knee cap down to the shin. All I can say it was too big for a dog leg but too small for a cow. Hey I showed everyone, they freaked out, everyone laughed though.Aug 8This morning Drew, Natalie and I went surfing at 6 am, and we had a blast, while everyone was asleep. When everyone woke up, we headed back to the dorms. A couple of hours later we did our house dedication. Today was the day where all of us pulled our money together and bought gifts for the family. We bought beds, a stove, chairs, tables, blankets and etc. props for everyone for chipping in, $1500 is a lot of money. We ate lunch with the family and we all mellowed out. Miguel and I danced with each other, ha ha, it was funny. Today was all fun and games but it was a day of hope and fulfillment for us and the family. When Drew handed the keys to Miguel, he couldn’t stop thanking us, he even invited us to a dinner later tonight, hey were in Mexico, of course we were going to go. When we got back to the dorms, Gill, Tori and Suzy baked cookies except they used a plastic dish in the oven, oops!!, well the second batch was good at least. For dinner we headed the family house. They made some incredible Mexican dishes. Too bad I felt sick. I don’t even know what I had. I was tired, really cold and later in the night my voice would change. One of the most emotional moments happened one the trip, well for me. I was freezing, wearing a t-shirt and shorts when one of Miguel’s daughters gave me a blanket. The blanket really did keep me warm, at the same time, I shed a couple of tears, hey real men cry 🙂 Then later that night when everyone was singing, I grabbed a seat right beside Miguel, than I feel asleep leaning on him. All and all it was a great night, I even knew some of the songs sung around the bonfire like Wonderwall and Iris which is my favourite song. Aug 9Today was all about fun, no work and all play, and that made a great day. Today we got to go to the volcano, but first we stopped at the beach for lunch. We climbed the volcano and there is an incredible view. I’m sure Charles had a great time watching all of us scramble up the volcano. After that we climbed beach caves and explored. An hour later we moved back to the beach where we had lunch. Some of us swam, played soccer while I threw rocks in the ocean with my music on of course, that’s what I call relaxing. Aug 10 Today was our last full day in Vicente Guerrero. All of us presented our think tanks. This is where we choose 1 chapter in Vaden’s book ONE: A Face Behind The Numbers. Each chapter is a cause of poverty, like water, war, corruption and etc. After lunch we had our final debriefing, which was very emotional and informal. During dinner we as a group decided to use the prize money from the think tank and donate the money to the woman who ran the orphanage. Later tonight we headed to Becky’s house for a fiesta, Miguel’s family was there as well.We celebrated the birthdays of the people who had birthday on this trip, Megan, Gill and I. Oh how could I forget, a couple of hours before the fiesta, our birthday cake was eaten by ants. But we got 3 delicious replacements. After cake we had a dance party outside and also the kids and birthday people got a swing at the pinata. At the end of the night Charles showed us the last slideshow of the trip, it was touching and moving. Great way to finish of the night. I got to do my final creative handshake with Miguel. Aug 11 In the morning we packed up and headed to San Diego. Along the way we stopped by La Bufadora. It’s a market for tourist. I had a great time bartering with the Mexican folks. When we arrived in San Diego, we all chilled out. Had dinner. I had a nice swim and a great soak in the hot tub. Tonight we had to say good by to JP, Megan and Alyssa. It was sad to see them go.Aug 12. I had a tough time sleeping last night. I go up early went down to eat breakfast and watched Sports Center. What a shocker, Brett Favre traded to the Jets, I’m a couple of days late on the news but that’s a shocker. At 7 am, Charles, Heidi, Simon and I sent Nicole, Tasha and Natalie to the airport. It was sad to see them leave. 2 hours later Charles, Heidi, Derek and I sent Gill, Tori, Suzy and Hannah to the airport. It was sad to see them leave. Drew went to his buddy’s house in San Diego and that was it. Lisette, Derek, Becky and Karly are going back down to Mexico while the rest of us are going to Canada to pick up the second group.I am looking back now on the 11 days we all spent together. I just got to say that I had a blast meeting you all. You guys have taught me many things, which I’ll try to work on in my life. You all gave all of us respect from the moment we all met. You are all incredible people and hopefully one day we will meet again. Hey if I’m in your town I better have a place to crash. Lets all try to keep in touch but there is one thing I regret. I wanted to say and give better goodbye but that is one thing I suck at doing. I get tongue tied sometimes. But hey I’ll see you later. And yes I’m talking to you guys.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 2nd, 2008