GBC – On The Road Again!

The day began with packing all the dirty laundry we are bringing home!Sorry moms! This also included cleaning and mopping the rooms andbanos. The tears began before we even made it on the bus. We will missour new friends and the experiences we’ve had in Mexico.After a stop for lunch in Ensenada, we made a very quiet run for the border. We were prepared for a longwait but ended up only waiting 30 minutes before we gathered our bagsand walked through customs without a hitch or a search. Our finaladventure for the day was a walk along the waterfront at the San Diegoharbour; got some great pictures and the girls met some militarymen….just kidding…statues!GBC SDTomorrow we are coming home…full of great memories and many, manystories.  Can’t wait to see you all!Bueno!Christine (87% contibutor), Bruce (10.5%) and Darren (2.5%)

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 13th, 2009

Participants Go the Extra Mile.

It was not until two days ago that I realized how frustrating poverty is. “You can read as many statistics about poverty that you want, but it’s not until you see it first hand or hear a personal story, that you will actually understand it,” said Meagan, my team leader. So here is my story…5720_99899890325_95760375325_2223738_1565850_n On Thursday, July 9th, Team 3 visited a Puerto Plata Hospital to repaint the children’s ward and entertain the patients staying there. During our tour of the hospital, I struck up a conversation with a 19 year old Haitian girl named Esther. Esther spoke Creole (very similar to French) and because I am bilingual it was very easy to communicate with her. I discovered that she had previously broken both her legs and had now broken her leg for the second time, along with the pins holding her leg together (take about bad luck!). She was in uncontrollable pain but to top it off Esther is an orphan and has no one to take care of her. As such, she could not afford the $25,000 pesos (30:1 to the CND$) for her very much needed surgery. Esther said to me that she could not sleep because the pain was so great and asked me if I could 5720_100303855325_95760375325_2231001_5256051_n help her. It broke my heart, but I had to say no. Moments later, Meagan approached me and said it might actually be possible that we can help Esther. Later that night, team 3’s leaders announced that already our team had raised enough money for Esther to have her operation, as well as extra money to get her on feet. You see, within 2 hours of our team hearing about this oppurtunity to help, 22 people were able to come together and pool our extra spending money.What a practical way to save a life in need! I can only imagine the difference that could be made if everybody came together to combat poverty. We received news that Esther has been sent to a hospital in Santa Domingo to receive her operation. Thank you Team 3 and other participants for helping Esther!

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 12th, 2009

Thinking of Garcia

Hero Holiday Fun Friendship is a gift. To some it is someone to keep us company, to some it is someone to help us through the rough times, and to some it is one of the pure delights and gifts of being human. We need friends. Since we started coming to Dominican Republic with Hero Holiday, I have become more acutely aware of how much I need my friends, and I have discovered how much I have to give them.Fours years ago, Vaden and I were driving down a road that seemed to go nowhere: it was washed out in places, had almost no traffic except for the odd motorbike or donkey, and it had houses lined along the side of it, full of people who shyly waved at us as we rumbled along. Somewhere along that place we found a man with a  dream, and his name was Garcia.Garcia is a musician, a husband and father, a pastor, and a man with a vision bigger than what was in front of him. Each day he would travel from his own village, Maranatha, to serve another community called Arroyo Seco. He believed in those people and was determined to help them move forward in whatever way he could. His life has been one of compassion in action. Along the side of the road there was a small area, about 20 feet by 30 feet, covered by four posts and a tarpaulin. All around the area, many feet out, was a trench that had been dug at one time, but was now covered in by weeds, grass and life. Five years earlier, Garcia had inspired some men in the community to dream of what a school could look like in that place. Together, they dug the trench and hoped that someday they might see a school for their children.DiggingI remember standing beside Garcia that day, looking out over that small area and envisioning what could be: a school that could change the future of the hundred plus children in that community. The following summer, our Hero Holiday teams began to work with Garcia and the people in Arroyo Seco to accomplish this dream. The Arroyo Seco projects have been a labor of love that has filled our lives with laughter, warm memories, huge community parties, and tearful good-byes. In some way, it has changed us all.In the summer of 2008, we put the finishing touches on the school. As we drove away, I looked over my shoulder and saw a bunch of children waving good bye, with Garcia and his family in the middle of the crowd, smiling and shouting out their thanks. It felt good to be a part of something so incredible. Over the time that we worked in their community, over 700 Canadian teenagers and adults had witnessed the fulfillment of a dream, and it inspired us all.In late October of 2008, while many of us got together with friends and had Halloween parties back in Canada, Garcia, his family, and the thousands of people that live in Maranatha, his own village, fought for their lives and homes as they faced a flash flood. Many homes were covered under two to five feet of water and sewage, and many families lost every last earthly possession they had. Garcia and his family were no exception.  Like so many of the world’s poor, they were now forced to rebuild their lives and start over-at the beginning. For a while, they had nowhere to sleep. But they were not forgotten.A Canadian missions agency offered Garcia and his family a new home in Arroyo Seco. They gave them a home close to the school and gave them more than they asked for. They are now high enough up a hill that they are safe from floods. But for Garcia, it is more than that; it is the reality of a dream. Now he is able to be closer to the people that he loves and he is able to be a stable part of a community he believes in.BubblesHaving people like Garcia in my life has helped to deposit deep convictions in everything I do. I cannot give up. I cannot stop doing what I am passionate about. I cannot quit just because things seem difficult where I am at. Though Garcia has told us time and again how thankful he is for our help in all that we have done in their community, I have felt like it is I who needs to thank him. His passion for a community to have equality ignited all of our lives that were touched through the experience. That same passion rings in our ears as we embark on each new project and endeavor to help our global community.So, Garcia, when I see you again, I will tell you this in person. But, until then, I will put it in black and white: you are a great inspiration and friend, and your struggle is our struggle, your victory our victory. We are linked by a common goal and purpose that is deeper than culture, skin color and economics. We are in this together.This year, Hero Holiday is back in the Dominican Republic, accomplishing many projects such as this. Please consider helping us to continue to see dreams accomplished.

Author: LiveDifferent


GBC – Final days in Mexico

 GBC finished houseGreetings from Mexico!Yesterday was an exciting, eventful and touching day, not only for us but for Martine and his family as well. We had the privilege of finishing the house and presenting them the keys! We also presented each family member with a special gift. In the process of completing our project we split into groups and do what girls (and Tyler apparently) do best, SHOP!  The morning group went furniture shopping at a local store where they learned the art of bargaining and “writing in the dust”. They we’re quite successful in their journey and came home with some screamin’ deals, and even a table for free! (probably because they bought the whole store) The second group then proceeded to Mexi-Mart (as Meghan called it) and purchased groceries and things to make the house feel a little more like home. It was a bit of gong show having so many blonde girls walk into a Mexican market, but we survived. After loading everything in the house and giving it a good dusting, the family was ready to be acquainted to their new home!  We stood in a large circle and got to say a little something to the family which was translated by Santiago, and in return they spoke what was on their hearts to us. There were many tears involved as we finally realized we were finished what we had set out to do and that this was our very last moments we would get to spend with the family we had grown to love.beach buggyToday was our day of rest and relaxation! We took a trek to the market to do some last minute shopping, which was an experience in itself. We then drove to the beach and had the experience of a lifetime when we hiked up a dormant volcano!  When we reached the top and saw the breathtaking countryside, it made the hike all worth it!  We frolicked and splashed around in the FREEZING Pacific ocean and then headed back to town and stopped at the Taco stand, Muy Bueno!  Lucas and Stephanie enjoyed intestine taco’s, you can ask them how that went.GBC teen with girlThis trip has been such a wonderful growing and learning experience for all those involved. I can not even believe that we leave Mexico tomorrow, its so heartbreaking to go. But now its our time to take what we’ve learned and apply it to our own lives, in our homes, our cities and our country.Buenos Noches from Mexico!Missing & thinking about you all- by Lauren & Meghan

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 11th, 2009

Some Words from our Students…

5720_99147140325_95760375325_2214298_1862339_n Yesterday, we visited the orphanage and we met some really great people. Since it was the first time any of us had ever been to an orphanage, we weren’t really sure what to expect. Despite their disabilities, each of them were more than happy to see new faces and make new friends. One boy in particular, named Tommy, really brightened our day. He was very happy when lunch time5720_99147135325_95760375325_2214297_1742786_n came and when he was sharing his book with all of his new friends.Along with playing with the children we also helped the caretakers with laundry and washing dishes. Both the children and the caretakers really appreciated our visit. This experience was an eye opener for each of us and we walked away looking at things from a different perspective.Katie, Brittany, Samantha, and Nicole5720_99643565325_95760375325_2220986_1349953_n Hola from Dominican Republic! It’s been five incredibly eye opening days. Myself, Miranda, Emily, Kathryn, and Kim are all sitting around a table in our hotel room recollecting our experiences thus far. On our first work day, we visited an orphanage in the morning and had a great time interacting with the disabled children. Playing at the park, feeding them, and helping with the daily chores necessary to keep the under staffed orphanage running. We spent the afternoon at a village starting the foundation for the additional room being built onto the school.The following day en route to a visit at a hospital, our group had a slight misfortune. Our ‘Beloved’ truck ceased to run! Luckily, within no time a replacement truck was sent, and we were once again on our way! Due to the delay, upon our arrival to the hospital our group had to come together and finish the job of peeling the numerous layers of paint from the walls. Now, this is one of those jobs that sounds easier than it actually is, like baking. Creating the perfect souffle is definitely easier said than done.Back to the hospital. This was one of the most emotional days so far. Walking among the beds of the sick children all with their family members by their sides, left us with a feeling of powerlessness. Seeing a child cry over a headache and not being able to help them was heart breaking, but the sense of community in those rooms was astounding. No matter who’s child was crying or simply in need of comfort, every mother was an arms length away. While a few group members entertained the children with music and colouring so the mothers could take a much needed rest, the other half of our group finished scraping and added the first coat of primer. Concluding our day at the hospital, our most recent adventure took us to an impoverished village where we painted, mixed concrete and dug trenches for the new kitchen that will allow the new school to open.5720_99643620325_95760375325_2220994_6722867_nHero Holiday has been working on this project three years and its been a great experience being a part of the final stretch, its completion date on the horizon! The highlight of this day was being welcomed into the village by a crowd of children, all eager to interact with us. Everywhere we looked we saw children holding hands and 5720_98742690325_95760375325_2208016_3004167_n jumping on the backs of the participants, blowing bubbles, and having our hair brushed and braided all contributed to an unforgettable day.Today we can’t wait to see what Hero Holiday has in store!Miranda Emily, Kathryn and KimXXOO

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 10th, 2009

Please Don’t Stop the Music

c_canon_megan (1) There are 2 things that I just can’t seem to remember since I’ve been in the Dominican:1) DO NOT flush the toilet paper down the toilet, because it will plugwithout fail2) Don’t use the tap water to brush your teethMy roommate has very considerately posted a sticky note on the bathroom mirror that says “Melissa, don’t use the water to brush your teeth you goofy girl!”  I’m just starting to get the hang of this.c_canon_megan (8) But other than that, I’m having the most amazing time!! Today we visited a hospital in Puerta Plata where we painted a room for the children’s ward and I brought a guitar and went around jamming with the patients. I’m always amazed by the way that music breaks so many barriers, whether they be age, culture, language…it doesn’t matter when it comes to music. I tried to play some of the most well-known covers that I know (The Beatles, “Stand By Me”, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), in hopes that the patients would know the songs…which as far as I know was an unsuccessful venture…but it didn’t matter. I played “Hey Jude” and half way through the song a man, probably in his early 70s, began clapping his hands to the music in such a rhythmic way – and man, do these people have rhythm –  it began to feel like a total cross-cultural jam session in the middle of a hospital. I wish there was a way to describe the sensation of unity in words, but words just don’t cut it. So one of my friends who works at the hospital is bringing my CDs tomorrow to some patients there that asked for them! It was an LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly beautiful experience to say the least.c_canon_megan (6) But ah! It is midnight and I have to be on a bus by 8:45 am tomorrow (that sounds like a lot of sleep but I need all I can get) to head over to a school/community center and work on building a kitchen! I would love to go on and on about what I’ve done/seen/heard here so far but…zzzzzzzzzz.——————————

See you in the morning!Melissa 🙂

c_canon_megan (12)

Author: LiveDifferent


GBC – Building Day 4 / What a sight!- Mexico


This morning we woke up to some unpleasant surprises. Yesterday was a
day of many flavors, and not all of them quite so delicious. We had some
new and exciting types of icees including mango chile and jalapeno!
For dinner we ventured to the taco stand where Miranda, Bruce, Meghan
and Christine were brave enough to try the grilled jalapenos which,
they would tell you, is quite the experience to say the least. All
that to say, most of us woke up with rumbly tummies and fried
tastebuds. Our mission for the day: finish the house. Our walls were
up, rooms made and windows cut. All we had to do was nail siding on
the inside walls, trim the door and windows, install the door and
windows and – oh yes, paint. Lots and lots of paint. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete all we needed to
but we will get er done asap.

 cemetery pic gbc
A few days ago we had an unforgettable experience that we didn’t get a
chance to blog about and share with you. A friend of ours, Santiago,
lives here in Mexico and is helping with the build and providing us
with many laughs along the way. On Monday, a dear friend of his and
his wife lost their baby daughter to sickness due to being born
prematurely in a developing country where they unfortunately do not
have the technology and care we are blessed with in North America. We
had the unique opportunity to bless the family by easing their burden
in the process of digging her grave. So, after work on Monday we
traveled on our trusty bus to the cemetery to begin. What a sight.
Each grave that we looked at had huge memorials to the loved one laid
to rest there. It was not uncommon to see some with huge fences,
cement walls and gates surrounding the graves to keep them safe. When
we discovered that the grave would take longer than we thought the
decision was made that Bruce, Darren, Shane (one other person helping
us out with our build) and Santiago would stay and finish. The whole
experience hit everyone in a different way, but equally hard.

We are scheduled to finish the house, furnish it and dedicate it to
the family tomorrow.  We can’t wait to see what is in store for us in these next couple of days.

From Mexico,
Meghan and Lauren (for everyone else!)

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 9th, 2009

Treasure in a Plastic Bottle

5720_98742635325_95760375325_2208005_7751360_n   Today on the day of team three’s garbage dump visit we all woke up bright and early, got a bite to eat and then started out our day with an emotional talk with Christal. She talked about the price of human life and us some stories about her Hero Holiday experiences in Thailand. We all began to realize, as Canadians, how lucky we are to have our freedom and how much we take it for granted. After a few tears were shed, we climbed aboard our bus and and made our way to the garbage dump. On our way, our translator taught us some easy phrases in Creole so that we would be able to communicate with the people at the dump.When we arrived, we began to hand out water and set up a water cooler for the workers to get clean water.5720_98742590325_95760375325_2207996_619329_n   Immediately, a little girl names Fitzah came over and grabbed my hand leading me right into the middle of the garbage pile. She began to show me what exactly it was that I was supposed to do, pointing at the plastic bottles, bags and some glass items that we were to put into a large garbage bag. We began to look over of garbage pile not knowing what we would find. It was weird looking through to find what may be recycling to us is plastic treasure for little Fitzah. As we worked together, I found that she could speak some French, so with the little French that I know, I was able to communicate with her. She told me that she was 6 years old and has always been working at the dump along side both her mother and father, making less than a dollar a day. She was very interested in how we live, and I was able to teach her how to count to 10 in English, which she was very proud of.5720_98742645325_95760375325_2208007_3964723_n5720_98742615325_95760375325_2208001_4811569_n Being at the dump was a very emotional and eye opening experience, but I was very glad that I was able to help Fitzah and her family make a little extra money for the day. As we were leaving everyone on team 3 found someone to give their work gloves to, this was such a big gift to the people and is one very easy way to prevent many diseases. We all said our goodbyes to our new friends and dump co-workers and headed back to our temporary home at the resort. I believe that we all finished our day with a much better understanding of what poverty is and a very eye opening day.Genelle – Summer Intern

Author: LiveDifferent


Building Day 3 – Mexico

We have a roof and windows! Our house is now well on the way.  The bano is officially up and running!  We vowed to never have a Canadian taco again now that we have tasted real Mexican tacos!GBC - mexico - building day 3After browsing through the biggest candy store we have ever seen, we ended off with an evening filled with lots of laughs and memories.Hasta Luego (See You Later)

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 8th, 2009

Cherish your Relationships

5720_98742515325_95760375325_2207984_3247939_n Today I had the privilege of taking a walk around one of the villages where our work site is located. This is my second year on a Hero Holiday and I have returned once more this July as a summer intern. The last time I had been to this village was a year ago, and it’s funny how much the people stick in your memory. Our building project here this time is to build an addition on to a school, and I spent most of my time shoveling a ditch at the back of the school along with the rest of my team.While on my walk it took a few minutes to recognize David, a man I had met last year at the same village. It was in fact, David who recognized me first. He even remembered my name! David speaks French and Creole (Haitians speak Creole and it very similar to French) and since I also speak French we are able to converse with ease. He asked me how I had been over the past year, and we got talking about his present life. David is lucky enough to have been educated in Haiti, but since living in the Dominican Republic for two years he has trouble finding a good paying job. He told me that to acquire a proper worker’s permit, it cost between $200-$400. When I said that was really expensive, he just laughed, indicating that it was completely 5720_98742530325_95760375325_2207986_7616567_n infeasible for him. He told me that he would like to learn English, and said that in Haiti he studied computers and house building.  He asked me what I was planning to do when I graduated, and when I told him I’d like to study Human Rights he said that he too felt obligated to return and help the people of Haiti.It really touched me that someone I had only met once for a short while would be caring enough to remember me. The amount of  love and respect that the people here put into their relationships is so inspiring that it makes me realize something… Just as much as we have many things to offer them, there are equally as much things we can learn from the people we are helping here. There is a certain dignity allowed in their relationships with one another that we do not seem to posses in North America. David reminded me of how 5720_98742655325_95760375325_2208009_3278519_n much it can mean to a person to simply remember their name, or inquire into how they have been. He allowed me to see that we must cherish and nurture every single human interaction that we experience, for this is how we show our love for one another.~Emma, a Hero Holiday Dominican Summer Intern

Author: LiveDifferent