A Day Worth Waiting For

  • Intern week is dedicated to community projects and intern-community bonding. It’s a five day week that not many get to experience, and this year I was one of the 12 people who got to experience it in Mexico. We took part in projects such as painting the Las Aves community centre, checking in with previously built for LiveDifferent families, a community soccer game, and a community garbage pick up. Each day was different and life changing in its own way, and they were all able to teach us skills and lessons in life that no high school, university, or other schooling could teach us. We are just 12 people that were lucky enough to get this opportunity, and none of us will ever forget it.


    Las Aves is a community that all of us interns have had a chance to get close with this summer. When we were told that we were doing a community clean up, all of us were excited to get started, and get cleaning. Upon arriving we were told that there may be a few locals there, and that if we could pair up with someone if we wanted to. To our surprise, nearly all of the people from the side of community we were cleaning showed up. To see that many people taking time out of their lives, forgetting their problems for one morning, to join together with us, was genuinely touching and there was nothing to do other than smile.


    Right off the bat, I saw an elderly lady struggling to open her garbage bag. So I walked up and asked if if I could help her with it, and I opened the bag for her after she said ok. I then handed her one side of the bag and I held the other, and we started to walk and gather garbage. Although there was such a huge language barrier between us, we didn’t need to communicate through words, we were able to communicate through smiles and nods. For me it was such an uplifting experience, to help Marcella-Carmen clean her community. Although we moved slowly though the community because she had and injured foot, we still made our way around the whole community, and she even made sure I knew where her house was, because she was very proud of it.

    Although I do not speak Spanish, I am able to understand the jist of it, and know a few words to speak. One moment that I will never forget is when Marcella-Carmen and I had been working for about an hour. The sun was beaming down, and we were getting near the top of the highest hill in the community. When we finally got to the top and had a second to take a breather, we simply looked out, and from there we could see the whole community. I couldn’t let the moment pass without telling her that she lived in an amazing and beautiful community. So I said “Bonita ” (which means beautiful), while over looking the community, because as I said, my Spanish is very broken. She looked back at me with the biggest smile on her face, and agreed, “Si, gracias”. This moment topped it all, it was such a momorable moment in my day, and I will never forget it.

    At the end of this amazing day, we played soccer in the afternoon on the community soccer field built by LiveDifferent. All the little boys came out dressed in their soccer jerseys, and played against us, and some other kids, and even some parents from the community joined in on the game. It was a great time, with many laughs, smiles, and a little friendly teasing from both teams. Everyone worked as hard as they could to play against these kids who were superstars at the sport. In the end we all came together and shook hands, played around on the field for a little while, and then took some pictures all together. It shaped up to be one of the best, and most memorable days of the whole trip so far!

    – Jeremy, LiveDifferent Intern, Mexico 2013


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 19th, 2013

The hardships of life in Nuevo Renacer

On our first morning we were so excited to be able to spend it in the home of one of the families in the village. Natalie and her husband have 3 children, unfortunately we did not get to meet him He is a motoconcho driver but is currently away in another province attending the funeral of his mother and visiting with family.

A day in the life is exactly what this is. We spent the morning going through the family’s daily routines. As she was excited to have special guests she wanted to hang new curtains and place her fancy lace table runner along the counter in her kitchen making us feel very welcomed into her home.

As we do in our homes she had her way of doing things and was a great teacher and willing to show us how Natalie liked things done. From the wringing of the mop to how the floors were washed Natalie assisted us in learning her techniques. Washing clothes was definitely a difficult task and something that took a while and a few lessons and practices to catch on, something we take for granted. A family of 5 washes their clothes by hand in a plastic basin by moving it back and forth between the wash and rinse and then into clean water before placing it on the line to dry.

On this particular day Natalie and her family did not have electricity which is a daily thing for them. We on the other hand were quite worried about this given we had brought fresh chicken to cook. Natalie seemed to take this in stride and confidently instructed us to help her make a Dominican rice and chicken dish. Using the one knife in the kitchen and the counter top we cut in half the chicken we had brought, one half to be cooked and the other half to be kept for another meal in the non running fridge. Natalie proceeded to take over in showing us her own recipe which smelt amazing as it began to cook.

The morning went way too fast, although we came to help them we realized very quickly how much we were being taken care of. One of the children was sent to get ice to ensure we had cold water to drink and Natalie brought out a towel for us to wipe the sweat from our bodies as it was cooler outside than inside the house. This morning is one that we will never forget and this family will always remain in our thoughts and prayers but we feel confident that Natalie’s strength, love and beliefs will guide her family through life.

A day in the life for us but memories we will have forever.   

Cheryl and Melissa ~ Hero Holiday Volunteers 2013


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 7th, 2013

Lessons from the locals

This is Lyndon and Cara from Sydney, Nova Scotia and today was our first day of work on four new houses for four great families. It was HOT! We broke into groups and got right to work…let us just say that mixing cement by hand is harder than you can imagine. That, on top of the extreme heat, was something you can’t exactly prepare for.

We both spent the majority of our day mixing cement and carrying cinder blocks. We also played with the children, brushed up on our Spanish by interacting with the locals, and Cara helped build up the walls of a home, while Lyndon soon found out he was a ‘Stella Ella Hola’ champion. With everything that was going on, our time in Neuvo Renacer flew by. With only 10 minutes left of our day, it was amazing to see our team come together with members of the community to make a chain to move the rest of the cinder blocks to the site. As a group we carried 300 cinder blocks down from the street.

During the 40 minute drive back to our resort we had plenty of time to discuss everyone’s experiences throughout the day. The thing that came up repeatedly was how little they had but how happy they were all the time. This made us realize that LiveDifferent has, and is continuing to have, a huge impact on the lives of the people living in Neuvo Renacer.

Later in the evening our team met to debrief on our work day. We began by discussing what had impacted us the most and the feelings we had experienced, both positive and negative. After hearing everyone’s take on the day we quickly realized the difference between needs and wants. We learned that what we may perceive as needs back home in Canada are not in fact needs. They are just wants that we think we need. They are materialistic and we could easily survive without them. By seeing the way the people of Neuvo Renacer live, it has really opened our eyes and shown us the true difference between a need and a want. We have many needs that we take for granted and many wants that we don’t actually need. We have learnt so much from the people of this community already. We can’t wait to see what else we learn this week!


Lyndon and Cara ~ Hero Holiday Volunteers 2013

Author: LiveDifferent


Handing over the keys

One of my favourite moments from my experience in the Hero Holiday program in the Dominican was house dedication day. It is the day where the family gets the keys to their new home. I was honoured to write and say a speech with Kardy (one of the DR interns), and to hand the keys over to the family. It was so incredible to be given that opportunity to hand the keys over so they can begin the newest chapter in their lives.

It was extremely difficult to try and get all of the thoughts in my head onto paper to write the speech. Once we had one idea everything just kind of flowed together. Being able to hand the keys over to the family was one of the most rewarding moments I have ever experienced. The smiles on their faces lit up the community and were contagious.

As much as we like to think we have helped these families, they have also helped us find a new meaning in our lives. They have inspired us to continue on this journey of helping people and doing whatever we can to make someone’s life a little bit easier.

I know I can speak for everyone when I say house dedication day is something you will never forget. It shows that all the hard work we put in that week actually made a significant impact on the family’s life. It was the most unbelievable feeling and something I will never forget.


Danica ~ Hero Holiday Volunteer July 2013



House Dedication was one of the best parts of the trip, and that’s saying something considering the entire trip was amazing. You could tell everyone’s excitement levels were high and the families were all smiles, awaiting the dedication to start. Prior to arriving at the work site, I had the pleasure of writing the dedication speech with Janice. It was tough to put all the thoughts we had into strings and make sentences, but we got through it and were actually quite proud of what we came up with.

On the bus ride over, we had lyrics to the song “Lean on Me”, which we were going to sing to the family after the translators and contractors had been thanked for their hard work. The song was a great choice, and although the family couldn’t understand the lyrics when we sang it, the look on their faces when Junior translated Kevin’s summary were priceless. In that moment, it was so clear how thankful they were for us and their new home, and how thankful we were for them and the relationships and experiences we had gotten. It was an amazing moment to share with some of the most wonderful people I know.


After everyone had been thanked, and the song had been sung and translated, Janice and I were called up to read the speech that we had prepared. It was a little long compared to the others’, but there was just so much we wanted to say. Reading the speech without crying was definitely hard, but so worth it, because I could tell how taken aback the family was with how we felt, and how we learned so much from them and their community. It just goes to show how much everyone still has to learn, and how much we can learn from each other. Once we were done speaking, I got to hand the keys to Francis. The smile on his face, and the hugs I received from the family afterwards, were ones I will never forget.

Each of the house dedications was special in it’s own way, between the songs that were sung and the relationships that were talked about and shared. It was great to see each dedication and catch a glimpse of the connections between the other teams and their families. Once the dedications were finished, everyone had a chance to look around the houses and then it was time to say goodbye. It was hard to part ways with the people we had come to know so well in such a short time, but I’m sure the unique individuals, the relationships we made and the community will always hold a special place in our hearts. 


Sarah ~ Hero Holiday Volunteer July 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 2nd, 2013