Today was our 2nd medical clinic and as far as we were concerned it was a great day! We started our day off at the registration table which was perfect for use since we got to meet all of the patients. It was an eye opening experience all around, but especially when we meet our little friend, Johnny. He decided to hangout with us all morning at our station and showed us no emotion, and nothing we did could make him smile. We made him a little paper airplane and although he showed no signs of gratitude, he would not let it go.
Closer to the end of the day Johnny finally spoke to us, and all he could say was, “I’m hungry”. It was disheartening to think that everyday we slide food off our plates into the garbage because we’re full, or throw out a banana because it is bruised. Especially when there are children like Johnny who are hungry and suffer from malnutrition because they are only able to eat once a day and the meal generally consists of rice & beans (and loaded with salt).
Halfway through the clinic the time came for use to switch stations and our new position was taking vitals. Within minutes the language barrier became evident. We were trying so hard to explain, “no shoes on the scale” or “open wide and close your mouth for the thermometer”. Luckily for us, two young moms stepped up to the plate and helped us out. It was hard to even explain how beautifully people can work together even when they speak very different languages. In addition it was amazing that these two ladies had such mothering qualities at such a young age.
As the clinic was wrapping up we were able (via an interpreter) to talk to our helpers more and learn about their personal lives. One of the young moms was only 13 years old and pregnant with her first child. She aspired to be a nurse, but with their living and financial situation, it was evident that might not be possible. It opened our eyes to the idea that we often take advantage of our education opportunities, and that because of poverty, people that could possibly cure cancer or invent a new way to conserve our resources are being held back from accomplishing something great!
All in all we had an amazing and life changing day. We leave with memories that will stick with us forever.
Today was very gut wrenching! (to say the least). As some of you may know, Hurricane Irene hit the coast of the Dominican Republic last night (August 22nd). While all of our team members stayed safe and sound in the resort, which is a strong cinder block structure built to withstand hurricanes, we couldn’t help but think of many of the families in the community of Neuvo Renacir where we’d been working.
These families live in conditions that are difficult at the best of times, and during hurricane season, many of them lose or sustain serious damage to their homes. As we compared stories in the morning, the team found that most of us did not sleep because the rain, wind, and waves were so loud. I myself kept thinking about what it would be like to be a mother with children in either Nuevo Renacir or La Union, villages where many of the houses are made of wood and metal scraps fashioned together that simply cannot withstand extreme weather. It would have been truly frightening.
This morning our team leaders thought it would be better that we all stay in while people were cleaning up the streets and any power lines that had fallen. We cancelled the clinic we had scheduled for the day, as most people were not in the frame of mind to attend it, as they were more focused on cleaning up the streets and their homes.
In the afternoon we headed over to the village of Nuevo Renacir to see how we could help. Most of the community was fine and the rain water had receded but as we turned the corner to get the ocean all you could see was garbage and debris everywhere. Some of the houses we had seen just three days ago were half gone. The waves were still really big too, most of us got splashed once or twice by them and got soaked. We divided into two groups and helped to move three families’ belongings out of their destroyed homes and into a dry church around the corner. Everything they owned was wet and dirty. They had all the garbage that was washed in from the storm by the ocean in their houses too.
I got to sit down with the mother of one of the families, Margalina, and asked her how she felt about what had just happened. Margalina, her husband, and two children, have lived in their ‘ocean view’ house in Nuevo Renacir for the past three years. Whenever it rained their house and belongings would all get wet and ruined. There have been times when the waves have gotten close to their home in the past too. She said that the storm had started around 8pm for them, and a cousin later came and got the family to stay in his home during the storm, as it was further away from the water. They did not sleep the entire night because of the noise and fear for their home. Now that their house has been destroyed and all their belongings damaged, Margalina seemed like she was in shock, and yet said that the family plans to fix and clean the house and move back in when it is ready.
Our team also spent some time moving large logs, rocks, tires, and other debris that the ocean had washed ashore in order to build breaks so the waves would not wash up into the homes even more. Water logged branches are heavy!! By the time we left the waves were being held at bay. I am so proud of our team, they worked their butts off!!! On the bus ride home everyone was pretty sober. One team member, Alex, had this to say:
We all struggled to hold back tears as we transferred anything salvagable to a church near by. Were are fortunate enough to be able to return to a comfortable hotel after a few hours of work but the people of Nuevo Renacir never have that option.
Hero Holiday is committed to the community of Nuevo Renacir, and while we are happy to say that all of the homes we built this summer are still standing safe and strong after Hurricane Irene, there are so many other families in this village who constantly live at risk of devastation by natural disasters such as this. The silly thing is that it’s entirely preventable. If families have homes that are well-built, with proper materials, and are located far enough away from shore, they would be able to avoid all but the most extreme catastrophes.
Hero Holiday is determined to give the people of Neuvo Renacir that chance. Right now, we’re going to do what we can to meet the immediate needs of this community as they clean up and salvage what is left. But we will continue to build homes for deserving families in this town so that they won’t have to face the next hurricane in fear, and we need your help to do it! Please consider supporting us by clicking on the ‘donate’ button above, or think about attending a Hero Holiday trip yourself! You can bring hope, love, and change to this community!
Today is September 2th and normally around this time I would be counting down the days until school starts again. I would probably be stressing about getting my parking pass and buying all my textbooks which we all know is extremely enjoyable! But instead I am sitting in my living room in Zapata, Mexico still not fully believing that I am finally here. The smell of fresh food cooking over the stove is creeping its way to my side of the room as Kristen and Hailee prepare our first home cooked meal. I look outside at the sun slowly kissing the tops of the green trees and it’s a sight of beauty that takes me away for a short moment. To describe how I’ve been feeling the last few days is more of a challenge than usual for me. It’s a lot different than I thought it would be that’s for sure! The house I have the pleasure of living in for four months is like a piece of heaven compared to the rest of our sandy town which is centered around the one main road. Yesterday we went out to one of the schools, Pasao San Quintin Primary, to meet some of the children and as soon as we arrived in Gus, the van, the children knew that school was over for the day! Instantly we saw a bunch of heads pop out from the doorway and a few kids came to greet us at the van doors. A little girl gave me a huge smile and right away I felt my heart fill with warmth as I took her hand in mine. The next moment I was running around the school playing with the children who had energy bursting out everywhere; talk about a work out for me! If I wasn’t spinning someone in circles, I was running around giving piggy back rides! But that hour was the most fun ever and I LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)ly cannot wait to go back there! This next week we will be going back but this time it won’t be all fun and games; well it will be but first we have to start with teaching an English lesson! How we are going to be going about this I’m not 100 % sure, but I do know that it will be very interesting and will be made possible with the help of our translator Santi! Also in this next week we will be going to help at Bueno Samaritano nursing home which will be interesting going from interacting with the children to the elders of this community. I’m looking forward to all of the experiences here in Mexico. Every night feels like the feeling you get on Christmas Eve; you want to sleep so badly but its seems like an impossible task because you’re full of anticipation for the next day!Britney, a School of Leadership Student living in Mexico