Moment to Shine

PlayingIt was a speech that was crafted with love for a small little ragtag group of orphans and workers in northern Thailand, but it was a speech I wish she could have delivered to stadiums of people. To be honest, she never had the chance to give it to all of them, as time ran out and the evening never went as planned. But that night, when we returned to where we were staying, she shared it with those of us on Hero Holiday; and it has come to embody why we do what we do in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute).Abbie is beautiful, both inside and out. She has amazing and expressive brown eyes, and she has a deep sense of compassion that is waiting for an opportunity to shine. She has been on a long road to recovery from many painful issues, eating disorders, and personal struggles. Hero Holiday became a last chance that evolved into a new beginning for her. With much deliberation from her parents, her medical team, and our staff, we decided that Hero Holiday Thailand just might be the best thing for her. Her life had been a blur of depression, self-loathing, and anxiety, but something changed when she had the chance to work for something bigger than herself. In that country, on that trip, Abbie learned how to love other people, and to love herself in the process. It had come to our final night on that trip, and that night, when she gave us her speech, we all learned to appreciate her even more. “Many of you, I know, probably don’t know my name. But that’s OK. For all of my life, I thought I had it unfair. I have gone through many battles which would be too long and boring to share with you. However, what I’m starting to notice is that these battles, this unfairness, is what has led me to Hero Holiday, to Thailand, to all of you. “Some days I’d like to give up because my purpose, my reason for being human, has been lost and unknown to me. I kept thinking, ‘Why was I placed here or given these problems, while others can glide through life having no clue to what is happening around them or thinking only about themselves.’ I’m just the same as them. I came to Thailand to give myself a taste of what’s going over my head and it has been an eye-opener in which I will never, or shall never, want to forget. Cole and the KidsEven though we don’t share the same language, I want you all to know that it doesn’t mean less privilege or rights or that you are not special. You are all unique and inspiring people and I will tell you now that I’ll be talking non-stop about this community, this loving home, for days and days and days. Whatever story has brought you here is here to show you how wonderful you are. We are all a box of crayons. We are made, coloured and drawn differently but we are all crayons. And we are all in this together. You are never alone. This community is built by the strong love you all have for each other. And, although I came here for you, you have given me your passion for life, your courage, and your strength to keep fighting with a voice that I want to be a part of and support. I don’t care that you forget my name ( you probably don’t know my name now) or that my face will be erased from your memories. The only thing I want you to remember is that you will be constantly thought of and loved by each and every one of us at Hero Holiday.SkippingOnce your life has been touched by injustice, you are never the same. Once your heart has been captured, there is no turning back. When Abbie’s feet stepped back on Canadian soil two weeks later, they were the feet of a life that had been affected by change. She made a vow to let go of all that she had been harbouring in her heart and mind, all the self-pity and all the reckless choices, and she determined that she will never look back. She has stayed true to her word. The road to recovery may seem long, but with hope, purpose, and support it is navigable. Today, Abbie’s life is proof that our life is so much fuller when we decide to empty it of being so consumed with ourselves.This is why we do what we do; every life that is changed is a life that can influence others to the same.”There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.”~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 26th, 2009

One BIG Family…


All year we have been counting down the months, weeks, and days until we would finally return to Dominican Republic to get our hands dirty for, and our hearts warmed by the hundreds of children that opened up their arms to us on previous Hero Holidays. Both of us having been on a Hero Holiday to Dominican Republic before the thought of coming back as interns was truly exciting because it meant that we would get to stay longer and become more involved and attached to projects.












Being interns has been such a great experience as we work along with some of the most amazing people in the world: our fellow interns and LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) staff. Most of us were strangers when we first met up in Toronto, but the minute that we started talking, everything clicked. As the days and weeks have gone by, we have laughed and cried together through this emotional experience. We’ve worked hard and played hard. Not to mention motivated and supported one another. We spent time and energy helping to plan events and little surprises for the participants and loving every minute of it. We even paid tribute to the LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) staff by taking their own talents and quirks adding in our own little twists in a funny skit on Talent Show night. Through everything, we have experienced we have learned to work together and love each other as a family. What we can take back from this journey is a new perspective in our lives and an opened mind to new possibilities for the future. If we love one another and have hope in our hearts then we will most definitely see change.

As our trip draws to a close a common conversation topic has been about going home. We look forward to waking up in the morning and going out to make a difference in our community. We are not going to lie, it is going to be hard to go home and not be able to go out everyday and actually see how we are making a difference through hard work. But from the things that we have witnessed on this trip we will work hard to make a difference and let people know about our journey over this past month. Although people may not completely understand why we would spend our summer vacation helping the less fortunate, we plan to inspire them to want to use their lives to make a difference in someone else’s too!

Over this last month, our eyes have been opened and our lives have been changed. It is because of the twinkling eyes we look into on our work sites and the cute little hands that we hold. Not only that but the heart warming stories we have heard from the people we have worked with. The choice to become an intern this summer was one of the best decisions of our lives and if we had the choice to do it again we wouldn’t change a thing. So, yes, it will be hard leaving but we will always have the memories to look back on and the conviction to know that we made a world of difference in so many peoples lives.

~ Joy and Emily, Dominican Republic Summer Interns

Author: LiveDifferent


My Trip so Far…

Okay… so this morning I was asked if i wanted to write a blog.. of course i will do that! well…it’s easier said than done! Our trip started on Sunday with the awareness tour, which was great! My team went first to the cemetery, and well… I probably would never go to a cemetery for ‘fun’, but we went and heard the story about a little girl Danica who died as a result of poverty. Her story really moved me because of the fact that there are so many children out here who are stateless, who don’t have parents, or cannot read, write and do simple math. Maybe if they were born in another country and had parents they would grow up to be a doctor or a teacher,  it just doesn’t make sense…After that we went to the village where a clinic built in Danica’s honour resides. This clinic is here to prevent other children like Danica, to die from such simple things that you or I can get help for without even a prescription.  As soon as we jumped of our truck and walked into the clinic, kids were all around us. It’s great the way these children greet you! They don’t even know you, but as soon as they see you, they run to you, want to hold your hand, and play with you. That, only THAT makes them smile already!!The first workday we (team 4) went to the orphanage. One half of the team went in the morning, other half in the afternoon. I was in the morning shift, and we had some fun stuff to do: play around with the kids, clean the beds and floors. We had to move bricks (huge cement blocks which I forget the word for in Spanish), weighing about 45lbs each, from one side of the building to the other side. This is so the contractors could build the wall around orphanage higher, so a little advernturous boy could not escape anymore…(he is hilarious, but a pain in the butt for the staff!) Our team had fun with this task seeing who could carry the most bricks at one time. Most of the team could only carry 1 brick at the time, a few carried 2 bricks, but I won being able to carry 3 bricks! It made be laugh because when the young guys who had come to help the pretty girls tried to carry 3 bricks like I had, they had a real hard time. Since that moment, my team decided to call me:  Gun show!Our second day was spent in the children’s ward at the hospital, painting. It was really fun too. We were painting the walls, but each other too. There were 2 rooms we had to sand and prime, before we could put the real colors on. It was kind of funny, because the site foreman expected us to take the entire day for this but because team 4 is full of fast hard workers,  we were done before lunch! While waiting for new paint to arrive, I had a chance to see the 2 babies in the intensive care room. One baby boy was born while his mom had only been pregnat with him for 26 weeks. He only weighed 2 pounds and was so tiny! I think this little guy is a miracle baby, especially since the hospital staff expected him to pass away last week. He is a real fighter so they have nicknamed him, “Little Tiger”and, good news, he has even doubled his weight since his birth.Our 3rd day was in was at a work site where Hero Holiday is putting a kitchen on the back of a community centre/school. In the morning, I went with half of my team to the village and played with the kids.. wow.. those kids are wild! When you give one of them a piggy back ride, they all want one. Before you know it, you have 5 children on your back and your legs want to give out. In the afternoon I went to the community centre to dig a hole behind the kitchen for the water drainage. This was a pretty small spot to work in, so Nate and I were kept shoveling for most of the afternoon. The rest of our team was painting or taking turns riding in the wheelbarrows. This day went fast, and we felt like we were really acomplishing something, and not to mention, we were sweating like crazy!Today we went to Agua Negro (Black Water). It was a great work site. We’re building a house for a grandma with her grandson, because every time when it rains the water from a river close by comes floods their house. It is very dangerous because if they don’t wake up at night, they can drown. For this reason, we’re building a house on higher and dryer ground. It is a great project, and I’m glad that I was a part of it.I’m really thankful that I am here and that I was able to raise enough money to come. I have learned that there are many things in my life that are wants and not needs but I am really grateful for the country I come from and the family I have.I’d like to encourage everyone to NEVER EVER give up on your dreams! Even when times are hard and the situation you’re in is difficult or there doesn’t seem to be a way out. Do NOT give up, you can make it!- Clarine, aka “Gun Show”,  participant Hero Holiday, Dominican Republic week 2

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 24th, 2009

The Fifteen Minute Dash

As the jam-packed open air truck rolled onto the gravel roads of the garbage dump, a man in the military uniform stood up from his chair and made his way slowly over to us. The whole bus immediately knew something was up as we came to a halt. The atmosphere became tense as the air grew still and silent on the bus. Worried glances were exchanged as Christal made her way off the bus with her usual smile. Christal and Judal greeted the military man, and soon got into a heated conversation. I could feel the stares of the participants searching for an answer from us interns for this delay, but I could provide none. Thoughts of frustration raced through my mind as I watched Christal negotiating a couple meters away, obviously negotiating for our permission into the garbage dump today. After what felt like hours, the trio came to an agreement and the truck was on the move once more – fortunately towards the garbage dump. The situation was briefly explained. Something along the lines of us having to get more permission from this other authority figure who is located further down the road. The complication of this pointless problem dreaded on and on. Finally, we were told that our group was allowed 15 minutes exactly at the garbage dump today. Fifteen minutes!

The group was now on a mission. We had 15 minutes on the dot to make sure we made a difference in someone’s life today. As the team raced face first into the mountain of garbage, trying to fill our bags of plastic bottles and bags, Christal and Judal tried to explain our situation to the workers. The team was so frantic trying to fill up our garbage bags, we dug through trash just as frantic dogs trying to reveal its buried bone – garbage flying everywhere behind us. The whole team managed to collect up to one garbage bag full of plastic by the time we had to leave. Distressed and frustrated, we knew we could do so much more if we only had a bit more time. One more bottle, one more minute, 25 more peso more for the worker,s day.

Stories of extreme injustice were told while we dug through garbage. It was said that someone  came into the dump earlier that day, and without reason set fire to the workers’ days of hard work: their bags of bottles. Christal had told us stories of injustice such as this, but no one was ready to first hand witness the extent of this problem. Days and days of hard work through the filthy dump wasted, all due to one displeased, angry man. This concept was hard to comprehend and accept as it tried to find a place to settle into my mind without success. We, as Canadians, are so multicultural and accepting of other cultures, this open display of racism is just.. simply alien.

We weren’t allowed to stay out in the garbage dump today, and it frustrates our whole team of workaholics. But in ways more than one – our experience was more rewarding than an average day at the dump. We saw injustice happen right in front of us, as well as experience the condition of the workers (for 10 minutes, at least). My heart and respect goes out to the garbage dump workers. As the ‘unwanted problem’, these amazing people always manage to make the best of what they have. The workers walk 3 kilometers to the dump every single morning just to make sure their family have food on their table tonight. Living on less than $1 dollar a day. Can you do it?

We are All United Forever.
Michelle – A summer intern

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 22nd, 2009

Three Years and Counting

The past three days have been an unbelievable start to my third year in the Dominican Republic with Hero Holiday. Day one (our Awareness Tour) was a truly amazing day for me. When we pulled up to Cangrejo, I almost didn’t recognize it. I have been a part of building this community centre from the ground up, but I never thought it would look as amazing as it does now. The rest of the awareness tour brought the same feelings; happiness, surprise, and determination to keep working as hard as I can to make even more of a difference. I am looking forward to working on the new projects and I hope we can make them just as good, if not better than these previous projects. Day two was an interesting day for team three. We went to the garbage dump to help collect bottles for the people down there so their income could be raised for that day at least. When we got to the gate I had a bad case of deja vu. Last year we were not allowed into the dump at all, and this year we were almost not going to be allowed but Christal managed to get us 15 minutes (which ended up being close to half an hour). Our whole team took full advantage of the short time we got, collecting as many bottles and giving out as much water as we possibly could. Although I had already been to the dump two years ago, I was still overwhelmed by how much garbage there was, and how these people have to search through all of it just to make one or two dollars a day, which is truly unbelievable. We were all disappointed that we couldn’t stay long at the dump, but once we arrived at La Union in the afternoon our attitudes completely turned around. The way the kids tarted cheering and running after our truck when we pulled in and will be an image I will never forget. I`ll also never forget seeing Dustin and the ten kids piled on his back all at once! The time spent there was filled with playing soccer, skipping, colouring, and of course Christal’s home run! I am so grateful that I got to visit La Union because playing with those kids is always a highlight of my trip here.Today, which is day 3, was such a fun day! Our team got to go to the Orphanage. At first, I was a little bit nervous because this was a different orphanage than the one I have gone to the past two years. All of my worries went away when I saw the same sort of happy smiles on the children`s faces that I have always seen. These kids are not much different then we were growing up. They laugh, cry, sleep, eat and drool. One little boy even pushed a little girl off her chair and then took a picture of her on the ground, which is something many little boys do back in Canada. These children have contagious smiles and laughs that are unforgettable. We all came here hoping to help make a difference, but what we didn’t realize was how much of an impact these communities, people, and experience have on us. The next week is going to be filled with so many more memories and I can`t wait to see what we have in store for us tomorrow!~ Shannon, a Hero Holiday Participant of many years!

Author: LiveDifferent


I Left My Heart in the Dominican Republic…

5720_100520630325_95760375325_2236065_3134540_n So I’m back from my travels to the Dominican Republic and the first thing everyone asks me is “Melissa, where is your tan?”. I’m fair-skinned, ok!! I tried to get a tan, I really did, but lounging on the beach wasn’t themain focus of this trip people! I’ve returned to good ol’ Ontario not feeling like I changed the world, but knowing that I made a difference in the lives of a few people who really needed it, and that’s where it all starts.Over the 10 days our group spent in the DR, I would confidently say that we accomplished quite a lot: We trenched through piles of garbage collecting recyclables  alongside Haitian refugees who call a garbage dump their place of work; spent a morning at an orphanage for physically and mentally handicapped children colouring, laughing and helping with lunch time!; started building a new house for an elderly woman and her grandson that won’t flood everytime it rains; painted a new children’s ward in a hospital and 6735_106686254931_503484931_1950761_1164299_n experiencing the true value of music as therapy; throwing a huge fiesta in one of the villages with a pork roast, soccer match, and gifts for all of the kiddies; and making tons of new little amigos that we’ll never forget.Without a doubt I’ll be returning to the Dominican and other places in need to keep spreading the love and giving hope to the people who need it the most. Oh, and now that I’m home  I have a minor, but unnecessary, panic attack everytime I see toilet paper in the toilet…the things we take for granted.~ Melissa, a Hero Holiday Participant.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 20th, 2009

Why I do what I do…

5720_99643565325_95760375325_2220986_1349953_n “Why do you spend $2500 to go to hard labour in the hot sun??”A question I hear again and again from people that just don’t understand.I don’t blame them, I guess its hard to understand when you’ve never actually experienced it.Hero Holiday has shown me so much my last two trips to the Dominican Republic- and brought out emotions in me that I didn’t even know i had.To sum it up in one sentence? An extraordinary eye-opening experience that I will never forget.You always see on TV or learn in your social studies class about all the poverty in the world. How there’s millions of kids dying from hunger, and about all the horrible conditions they live in. Hundreds of thousands of children dying everydayTo us, us lucky less-than-one-percent of the world that have won life’s lottery, by just being born in the right place, that’s just a number. Just a simple “oh that’s so sad” then we go on with our day. It’s not a reality to us.It’s not a reality until you hold that little child hand. The child that grabbed your hand as soon as your feet left the  truck, and the child that held tight and didn’t let go until you were dragged back into the truck to go back. The same little hand that works countless hours a day to make a couple cents for their family, picking through garbage, shining shoes…People in Canada who depend of welfare, are in the top 4% of the richest people in the whole world.Just think about that.6654_1076690650894_1635060164_256565_4145493_n Last year, the biggest thing I learned when I went the trip was: the media in North America portrays poverty unrealistically, in order to get more people to support their organization. Have you ever watched those sponsor a child commercials? Ever notice how all the children that they film have big sad eyes, just walk around with no energy, and are hopeless? That’s not the case at all. Most of the children in the Dominican Republic are the most hopeful children I’ve ever seen. They’re grateful with the little that they have, they’re always running around, happy, joyful, with the biggest smiles on their faces. They’re not moping around feeling sorry for themselves, they’re running around thankful that they’re alive. They ran around on the hot dirt in their little bare feet, leaving little footprints everywhere. They offered me anything of theirs that they had with them, little lemon seeds they find to eat, they always offered me one before giving one to their sibling, then taking one for themselves. That gave me so much inspiration. Inspiration to live every day to the fullest, and be grateful with what you have.5720_100303810325_95760375325_2230994_1897828_n  This year, when I went back, I saw all those happy faces again, remembering the ones that wouldn’t let go of my hand, and the ones that left footprints in my heart. It was a whole new experience. I thought coming back would be just like the last year, same work sites, etc. However, this year I found myself in mostly new work sites, and a whole different experience. One place we did not visit last year was the public hospital in Puerto Plata. Our main job there was painting, half of the day we painted the walls and ceilings, and half the day we visiting the section with the children from newborn babies to 14 year olds. We brought them colouring books, crayons, playdough, and their favourite – bubbles!I sat next to a small girl, she was 12 years old. I don’t know what brought me to her, but as everyone met eyes with a child and went over to say hello, she was the only one that didn’t look over at the door to us, faced the other way, almost as if she was stuck. I went over, held her hand and introduced myself. When I asked her her name, and how old she was, she replied in a dry and scratchy voice “agua” I was alarmed, she sounded as if her vocal chords were on5720_99147145325_95760375325_2214299_5563832_nthe verge of breaking from being dry. I hurried and got her fresh, cold water, and she looked up and me and smiled. I showed her the colouring book I brought over, and handed her a crayon. She held it for a moment, and gave the crayon back to me, pointing at the picture of the stars and fish she chose. Confused, I did as she asked and we spent 20 minutes colouring the pictures together. I fanned out the colours I had, she pointed at the colour she wanted, then pointed in the area that she wanted me to colour it in. I wondered what was wrong with her, she could barely gather up the energy to colour in one tire of a car, then once again handed me the crayon. After a while, we were told to leave and go to a different area of the hospital so the nurses and doctors could do their check ups and such. When I came back maybe half an hour later, her mother and aunt was there, packing up her sheets, and belongings. I was very confused and in midst of their packing I folded the coloured pictures and handed them to her mother. She looked at me with very sad eyes, and looked at the little girl. Panicking, I asked one of the girls that can speak Spanish to translate for me and ask her mother what was wrong with the girl, and why they were going home when she was clearly not well. She told me that the little girl had fevers, pains – all over the body, enough that she can’t move, and they were taking her home. She did not have to say it, I could see it in the mother’s eyes. She had lost all hope for her daughters survival, and decided to take her home. My heart broke in an instant. I thought losing hope wasn’t an option. I was so used to the people I met being so filled with hope, all the kids running around, and I was so sure that this little girl was going to stay in the hospital until she was well enough to colour all the pictures in the book herself…All the hands I’ve held, the smiles I’ve seen, every single one of them, have left a footprint in my heart, they’ve taught me a lesson I will never forget. Lessons that make me focus on what I have, and not the things I want, making me thankful for my family, friends, and for my life I’ve lived, and my future ahead of me. Lessons that help me see the world differently, and lessons that make me realize that one person can make a difference.That is why I fund raise, and That is why I go. To remember the lessons learned.~ Hanee, a Hero Holiday Participant

Author: LiveDifferent


Mother Teresa of Agua Negra

Sandra and ChristalIt was so hot we could feel sweat rolling down our spines. There was no breeze, no shade from the sun, no clean spot to escape the dirty road under our feet. All around us, eager children grabbed at our hands and chattered at us incessantly in Spanish. We politely nodded and laughed at their antics, secretly wondering how long this little diversion was going to take. As we looked over our shoulder behind us, local people smiled and waved as they called out, “Hola!”, and as we looked in front of us, we saw the woman who was leading the way on this little trek: Sandra. The Mother Teresa of Agua Negra.Village“Agua Negra” means “Black Water” in Spanish. It is a significant name if you consider the location of the community: sandwiched against the industrial harbour of Puerto Plata, tucked away out of sight, Black Watersovercrowded and polluted, and built on top of an old garbage dump. In this place, poverty has raked open a gaping wound in the lives of those who are victimized by it. Narrow streets, filled with sludge and sewage become the passageways of all the inhabitants in the community and whenever it rains hard enough, the mud rises in the streets as the ground seeps out black water. Not exactly what you would consider prime real estate.Hero Holiday ParticipantsSandra dreamed of something better for herself, her children, and the people who are relegated to calling Agua Negra home. Since that day, she has rallied help from around the world to build a school, a computer learning centre, a boys and girls after school facility, and has inspired some people there to start to make clothes and jewellery for a cooperative income. LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) chose to partner with Sandra’s organization to build two homes for families that have been devastated by AIDS and other irreversible consequences of desperate poverty. Here in Agua Negra, when you build a house, you are literally putting it down on a foundation of garbage, hoping it will hold and hoping you will stay safe. And though it may not seem like much to the outside world, to the thousands upon thousands of people who call this place home, it is all that they can lay claim to.SandraIn many ways, Sandra seems to be an enigma to me. I do not know how she decided to begin her work here or what led her to stay in this community, and I do not know how she continues to do so. She is a single mother of four children, but she is overflowing with faith and vision. As she walked among the community with us, I realized that she is no better off financially than the people whom she serves and works among in Agua Negra. Though she is one of them, she is one who chooses to point the way to a brighter future, one small step at a time – and she is loved in this place. Women confide in her, men respect her, children are drawn to her. All who meet her walk away being reminded of the power of compassion, one life at a time, and are struck with a deep conviction that you can never give up on people. Her life reminds me that love is never wasted. She knows each family by name, knows the ages of their children, knows their struggles and successes. And on that dirty, smelly road, Sandra taught us to love without saying a word._-10.jpgWe sat in the homes of families, sixteen adults cramped into one room shacks and lean-tos. We held hands of children burned by gasoline explosions, kissed the cheeks of mothers losing their battles with cancer, shook hands with men and women who were fighting AIDS, a disease they did not understand and who had chosen them without their consent. And that day, in that place, we saw a little glimpse of heaven on earth. Later that day as we drove away (two hours behind schedule!), we each felt like life was a little more precious, health was a little more appreciated, and love seemed a little sweeter. All of that was because of a small woman, who in a big way, has helped to be the voice, the hands, and the feet of hope and compassion.SandraSandra, my friend, you are a beautiful woman, both inside and out. Your love for your community has both inspired me and challenged my boundaries of compassion and grace. Thank you. I never had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa, but I have seen her spirit live on in women such as you.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 19th, 2009

Books for Everyone!

IMG_1232 Hola, my name is Rachel and I am a member of the Rotary Interact Club in Kirkland Lake. This past year, the Rotary Club’s focus was to bring awareness on literacy. In order to this, our Club decided to organize a fundraiser called, “Reading Relay”. What we did was set up a reading station at the busiest location in town, our local grocery store. The reading station consisted of a big comfy couch, a reading lamp, as well as a side table. People from the community would sign up to read for one hour in our cozy make shift living room. The cost was $20 and most local businesses would help out by sponsoring their employees to read. At the read station, we our Club members set up to supervise and to explain to members of our community why we were there. People thought our fund raiser was very cool and got involved by donating money. In the end, with the money raised through our reading participants and as well as local donations, we raised a thousand dollars! This past week, I participated on the Hero Holiday to the Dominican Republic. I brought the $1000 we raised with the fundraiser with me. Our Club’s goal was to buy as many books as we could to help improve education in the schools that Hero Holiday was building. With the $1000 we purchased the class room curriculum for the subjects: Math, Spanish, Science, and Social Studies (grades 1-4) for two schools along with some books for their libraries and other teaching tools. You see, in order for most children to go to school in the IMG_1236 Dominican, students are often required to purchase their own curriculum books and they are expensive. The schools we purchased these books for will use them as a teaching tool and have the students copy the lessons from the book to their personal notebooks because the community can not afford these lesson books.It felt so incredible to witness the outcome and the impact of such a simple fund raiser that LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly anyone can organize. Education is such a fantastic and important thing that a lot of people take for granted. I know with the help of these books a lot more children will be able to attend school and have a brighter future. Just knowing that puts a smile on my face. I believe that so many people have potential and with that potential, you can make a difference.Quick tip for anyone wanting to do a fund raiser like the one or just to get the word out to your community is to contact your local newspaper and radio station. That way everyone can hear about it and get involved.Good Luck!~ Rachel, participant on Hero Holiday Dominican Republic 2009

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 17th, 2009

Oh, What a Party!

5720_100520600325_95760375325_2236061_864781_n Today was the community party, which was one of my favorite days of my Hero Holiday to the Dominican Republic. This is my second time to the DR and we always end the week off with party in one of the communities that we work in. This week it was in the community where a lot of the people who work in the garbage dump live and was host to our sports camp all week.I love the parties because we know that all the kids and families are so excited to have us. It was really nice to see everyone so happy. The kids were happy to play with us and the parents were so happy for the meal. (Roasted Pig, rice, and tons of fruit). My favorite part was when all the buses pulled up, the second we all hopped off the children were already holding our hands. It reminded me of how you can make a child happy by the 5720_100520545325_95760375325_2236052_8322480_n simplest of gestures, like holding their hand, or even just smiling at them. I also loved when we played music all the villagers know the songs we did, it was a way of communicating with them even if we did not speak the same language.Personally, I feel like this day was even more exhausting than the work sites only because these kids have so much energy. It is really hard to keep up, but being tired at the end is totally worth it! I am glad we had this opportunity to show the community that we value them and spend more time with them.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 13th, 2009