Adventures in Gaspe!
On Sunday we spent the day sight seeing which was amazing.
Peace and Love,
Joseph from Bondless
On Sunday we spent the day sight seeing which was amazing.
Peace and Love,
Joseph from Bondless
There’s a nervous excitement that settles into the bottom of a nomads belly before he or she begins scaling the open road. Familiarity promises to become a foreign concept, ‘home’ a word with questionable meaning, and maps resemble blueprints for moments of unimaginable joy. But that’s exactly why we do what we do: at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), we have an insatiable taste for adventure, and we’re fueled by the great potential of those that our path intersects with.
After a rocky start back in Ontario, Team 2 (West Coast, affectionately known as the ‘Best Coast’) finally hit the black top through Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and North Dakota until finally the Manitoba border greeted us with the warmth of a thousand embraces. Despite our fear of border guards, we weren’t held up for long and soon found ourselves spread out on the floor of our friend JP’s house in Winkler. We only slept for about four hours before it was time to head further West, but they were good ones!
From there we slipped through the border of
Ulken is an Irish Wolfhound, he stands 6’8″ and is a mere 3″ short of the record for world’s largest dog. We were all fascinated by his gentle nature – and yet we couldn’t help but feel slightly terrified at the very same time. Adam (
With heavy hearts we left Ulk and Janice in
We had a great time exploring the city, and the fun followed us all the way to our time in
Leah, a School of Leadership student traveling across Canada
Well this week we volunteered at a home for the elderly called The Good Samaritan, which has about twenty residents living there. It is a great nursing home in Vicente Guerrero, just about a ten minute drive from were we live. People who live here are usually dropped off by the family never to be seen again or are found wondering the streets. But some families put them there because they just can’t care for them anymore.
The opportunity to be able to volunteer here is especially special to me because I work in a nursing home back in
It is so hard to have a language barrier when meeting or just trying to get to know someone at the home. Trying to talk to the residents or staff is very hard but we manage to get by with common and familiar words. There is a resident named Maria who speaks amazing English and whom Matt has become special friends with. The first day we visited the home and after they met they talked for half an hour. It is also great to see the staff care for these people. They have big hearts and work with smiles on their faces. Taking time to chat, as well as care for them. I know how easy it can be, after working there for awhile, to slip into just physically caring for them and forgetting the personal side of the care. A touch on the arm as you walk by, or a five minute conversation can change a residents day for the better. The whole team loves going and loves being around the residents. We can’t wait for the next visit!
Shane, a School of Leadership student living in Mexico
September 22nd, 2010, our first arrival in
Finally, the show. The school was small, only having around 78 students in total. But this was super awesome as we really got to connect with these students personally through our presentation. The best part of all is that they all spoke French, and it was so cool, the fact that they are Canadian, but speak French. I loved it! We also got to learn a couple words as well and hangout and talk with everyone.
Best part of the day; yeah you guessed it, the poutine! The whole highlight of my tour, the one thing I was looking forward to the most. Having a poutine, right here in
This whole tour has been LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly amazing so far and I know it can only get better. The fact that we can enter a school and talk to teens around
Next stop Gaspé
Throughout our School of Leadership student’s year, they are asked to read numerous books to enhance their knowledge of global issues and to challenge their world views. One of the first books on the list is, ONE: A Face Behind the Numbers by our very own CEO, Vaden Earle. This book is great to learn from about the main causes and effects of poverty and helps our students begin their journey on educating themselves and others.Here is a small excerpt from Sarah’s report on the book:ONE: A Face Behind the Numbers is a great read, not only because it doesn’t take hours and hours to read, but because what you do read will impact you, no matter who you are. It inspires you to give more of yourself, even if you have the coldest heart. It will make you think twice about your actions on an everyday basis. After putting the book down, you may not remember all of the statistics, but you will remember the personal stories of children all around third world countries. That’s a good thing, because remember, it’s not about the numbers, but the faces behind them.Throughout ONE: A Face Behind the Numbers, I kept constantly questioning how I was blessed to be born in such a country where we have everything, and yet just because millions of others were born in a different country, makes them have significant less than I do?I know that with having this privilege comes great responsibility. I know that because I was blessed with many things, including a wonderful country, that I am to take that and run with it. ONE made me realize and become aware of many things.
Third world country statistics need to change. We need to hear less stories about dying, and more stories about living and hope. Children cannot go on living this way. They shouldn’t be focused on how they’re going to provide for their siblings, they should be focused on things normal kids do: imagination. Imagination that takes ONE person. A person who can imagine a life of a healthy, happy world. Because hey, if you can imagine it, you can believe it. If you believe it, it can become a reality. It only takes ONE. Because of this book, I am inspired to be that ONE, and try to change the way that many, many people live, or, in this case, barely live. If this sounds like something you would be interested in reading, feel free to contact our office to purchase one or order it off of the Chapters/Indigo website: http://bit.ly/dwbz3h
My dad has always told me “Matthew you’re not nervous, you’re excited. It’s the same emotion it just depends how you look at it.” I’m here to tell you; NERVOUS was definitely what I was. Today was our first day of teaching the English program that we came up with to students at a local school in Mexico. We had already visited this school about a week ago to play with the kids and get to know them, but today was the day we were going to put all the time of planning our classes into action. I had so many things running through my head, “What if we screw up?” “What if they laugh at us?” “What if we fall flat on our face!?” Anything possible that could go wrong, I had thought of it believe me.
We all walked in and put up a map of North America so that we could explain where each of us lived to the students. After me and Em Cost introduced St. John’s NL we stepped aside so the rest of the lesson could be taught by our fellow SOLS. Watching the kids pay attention to the rest of the lesson was phenomenal. They were so excited to have us in there; kids were screaming out, “Hello” “Goodbye” “How are you” all over the place. The pure excitement in their voice as they would scream the English equivalent to the Spanish word made everything worth it. By the end of our time, I was not nervous at all but truly excited with what we had presented to the school, and can’t wait till next week when we move onto colors!
~ Matt, a School of Leadership student living in Mexico for the next 3 months
When LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) decides to build a house for a family through our Hero Holiday program, there are two things we need to make it happen:
And then, after you have secured those two items, jump in and enjoy the party!Off the main highway, on the north coast of Dominican Republic, on the west side of a kite surfer’s paradise is a busy little taxi/bus/moto-taxi stand. Behind that stand is a long, narrow road, seemingly going nowhere. But, if you follow that road, you will soon come upon a quiet little Dominican village, called La Cienega. Here there are no tourists or foreigners – there are only quiet, humble people working hard day in and day out to try to keep their families provided for. Sometimes they succeed, many times they fall short, but each day they do their best. That village is where we first found out about Iris.Iris (pronounced Ee-rees) is a single mom and like many single mothers around the world, she faces many struggles on a daily basis. Being a single mom is hard. Being a single mom in a developing country with very little resources to provide for her family is especially hard. But, above all of that, Iris is plagued with an unknown disability that inhibits her from working at any job: her legs are continually full of sores and lesions, and at times, the pain is excruciating. Because she is unable to work consistently, life has often been very uncertain for her and her kids.But when you meet her, her disability, illness and her desperate situation is not what you see. You see her eyes, and they are kind. I like eyes like that: eyes that say, “You are welcome here”. Each day, as our Hero Holiday bus would pull up and 15-20 students would tumble out, Iris was there to meet each person, kissing them on the cheek, eager to make them understand how much this meant to her and how much we were welcomed into her world.Each day that house came together, hope would continue to rise and an excitement filled the crowded little neighbourhood around us. Their previous house was little more than a shack that was falling down around them due to shoddy construction and termites. This new house wasn’t just a building to give them shelter – this was a house that would provide income for her and her family because of the second half that we attached to her family’s living quarters. Iris would now sleep a little easier, knowing that there was a source of income for them.On the day we did the house dedication, it was hard to find a dry eye in the crowd. Many people came out from the village to show their support for Iris and their gratefulness for what we did in their community. This house, to all of us, became a symbol in La Cienega: a symbol that our circumstances don’t need to direct our life story.Iris’ house was a lesson for all of us this past summer. It was a lesson for our participants about what poverty looks like and how they can each play a part in helping to fight off its grinding pain. Each day, as we worked on the house and took time to play with the countless kids running around the village, life took on a new perspective as many of our students began to grasp the disparity of the world and recognize that they could help bridge that gap. For LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), this summer meant that, together with our participants and donors, we were able to accomplish some significant projects that helped to change lives in a tangible way. And for me, each time I looked into Iris’ eyes, I learned about hope. It never gives up.LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is returning to Dominican Republic with our Hero Holiday program in the year ahead – and you can join us! Want to know more? Check out www.livedifferent.com. Together, we really are making a difference – and this is just the beginning!
September 10, 2010We are team one, and because there are ten of us and our road team leaders are Shane and Katie, we have dubbed ourselves, “Shane and Kate Plus Eight”Today we had to be up and out the door at 6:20am. SOO EARLY. One of our neighbors wasn’t too pleased to wake up to the sound of our bus engine so she decided to let us know!Then he went onto the bus. The drive to Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School was once again another quiet ride. Everyone was so tired and anxious to present our second Think Day presentation.Once we arrived at the school we were in a crunch to set up. But we started on time and the students were instantly interested in the opening video. I watched the facial expressions from a few students go from not giving-a-care to quite excited within seconds. Once Shane and I entered the stage to start, the students were right into the show. The girls LOVED Bondless, our band that is touring with us this semester! They were clapping and singing along. It was great! When it came time for LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s “Disband” (where we have a group of students and teachers pretend we are on American Idol), the students (judges) were very great and cooperative, they stayed in character and had fun with it. The teachers were great as well – they rocked hard and the students decided that they had what it takes to make it in today’s music industry.After the show, there were swarms of students surrounding the Bondless table. When I talked to a few of the students, a comment I heard multiple times was, “the stories are so real” and “[Shane’s] story reminded me of then I was  because…”. It was encouraging to me as a student to hear how these students can relate to our stories. Overall, I’d say that the students loved it! We were a hit!~ Emily, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s School of Leadership student
If you spend any time at all with Mandy, one of the first things you will realize about her is her sincerity. Mandy sincerely loves people, and she sincerely believes in reaching out to the world around her. As our bookings coordinator in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), Mandy is an integral part of our team that is working daily to bring hope to Canadian youth.
It wasn’t the first time I had been to Mexico with Hero Holiday. I had gone the year before but along with people from my school. This year I came alone and as an intern. Of course there were some familiar faces but I knew this year would be different than the last.I got on the plane in Bellingham, Washington, for the first time by myself, and headed to San Diego. I was greeted by people I knew and people I didn’t. It was a relief to finally have the trip start and be on my way.Right away I felt the warmth and love that all of us Hero Holiday-ers seem to radiate. I got to know the people I hadn’t known from the previous year and then had a chance to catch up with old friends. By the end of the first night I would’ve gladly introduced everyone as a friend of mine.The first group of participants came the next and all of interns got to play the “airport game” and figure out who are participants were. It was nice to hear where everyone was from, how they heard about Hero Holiday and why they wanted to come. We all anxiously waited for the next day when we would arrive in Zapata.It took some time to remember how we go about building a house but I soon got the swing of things again. I tried each aspect of building instead of finding one part that I was good at and sticking to it. By the end of the build our family plus one other, both had strong standing houses to fill with their love.It was sad to see the first group go but we said our goodbyes and had little rest and relaxation at the beach in San Diego. We were having fun until two of our team members got stung by sting rays. Luckily they weren’t hurt too bad and we all found humor in the situation and got back in the van to head home to Zapata.We started our intern build strong and finished with all of our walls being built on the first day. Unfortunately three of us didn’t get to see the rest of that build because one of our interns needed a trip down to San Diego due to medical issues. Thank goodness for Rose and her ability to stay calm or appear it at least. The three of us ended up spending the weekend in San Diego to wait for a follow-up appointment and on Monday returned to Zapata just in time for the second group of participants.Our second builds went just as well as our first ones and we were able give two more houses to two more deserving families. Our debriefing sessions were raw and emotional, it was beautiful to see people feeling safe enough to open their hearts up to people they’d know for only a few days. Once again we created a close knit bond with more people.I am sad to have seen my month end as fast as it did but I know that I will be back. I thank LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) and Hero Holiday for the time, effort, and love that they put into what they do. I have learned we can’t change the world but we can for sure make it better. And now when I look back on the people I meant and got to know, I would not introduce them as my friends any longer, I would introduce them as my family. ~ Hailee, a Mexico Summer Intern now returned to Canada
My month in Zapata alongside Hero Holiday staff and participants was one I’ll never forget. There is LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly nothing on this earth that can compare to the feeling of changing someone’s life, and I was lucky enough to experience that high multiple times this summer. I left my house in Vancouver on my own to join the rest of the summer interns in San Diego. At the airport I was reintroduced to Andrew, Dawn and their son Anthony who I had met briefly during my school trip in March. We walked into dinner, where the rest of the group was patiently awaiting my arrival (thank you delayed flight) and I met the rest of the team. First off Kent (woah what an accent), Kelsey, Shelby, Hailee, Jenna, Colton, Jo Ho, and last but certainly not least, Rose. Thinking back to those first days seems like a million years ago, we were strangers then and now I consider these beautiful people my family.
After the group arrived we learned names and soon headed down the Baja to our new home. The first build of the summer was defiantly a crash course to construction; I realized that there was more then just painting to be done. By the end of the month I had dappled in each aspect of the build, from roofing, window trim and to foaming the external walls. Although we momentarily lost three strong women from our intern build it was a week where lasting bonds were made. Post sting ray incident I acquired many nicknames, out of pure love I’m sure…and soon we were cleaning up and awaiting the next groups arrival.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with an organization that whole-heartedly reflects my morals, and is making a difference. LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) isn’t in it for the fame or fortune, they care deeply for people. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Andrew, Dawn, Rose, Kent, Santi, Julia and all of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) for providing me with such a life changing experience.
~ Greer another wonderful Mexico Intern