Building a Future

After our build prep week we were filled with excitement and joy to continue with the process of building Eleidy, Guillermo and their two kids, Elizabeth and Guillermo, a home. This week wasn’t just about building a home it was about building a future and an opportunity for success.

Typically, when LiveDifferent staff go through the selection process of finding a family to build a home for, they go though a series of interviews and ask around the community, about who in the community is most in need. In the case of Guillermo and Eleidy it is a little different. In this case a local cement company here in the San Quintin valley came to LiveDifferent and proposed an idea that if they donated all the cement and blocks for the house, LiveDifferent could build a house for one of the workers in need, and that’s just what we did. The cement company asked their staff who was the worker that was most in need/deserving of the home. With guidance from LiveDifferent, the workers came up with Guillermo and his family.

The night before build week we sat down with the family at the build site, ate pizza, and shared stories and parts of our lives at home. We all introduced ourselves, shared our age, where we were from, how we paid for the trip and also talked a bit about our families. Guillermo and Eleidy shared their life stories and how they met which was very inspiring for me just to hear. The also shared the struggles they’ve been through and how they have managed to get through it while raising two children at the same time.

Build week started at full throttle, within minutes of getting to the build site people started laying brick, and mixing cement while Jordan, Stephanie and I were working away on digging a 8ft hole for the baño (outhouse). This just so happens to be our favorite pastime so if anyone in Canada needs one done, we got you covered. As we started to eat lunch at the work site the wind decided it was the perfect time to pick up, so there was dust and dirt flying everywhere and so we got the privilege of eating half of Mexico along with our lunch. Thankfully, on the following days, a local church opened its doors to us for us to eat inside. The week continued with us laying brick, finishing the hole, and then once all of the framework was done we began painting the exterior walls and building the roof. This is where it got real for me. Like, wow… we were building a house! All of the building was so new to me since I have never been on a build trip before let alone done copious amounts of manual labour. I am practically the laziest person on planet earth and my bed is my best friend, but I have learned to do so much and feel like I have even grown personally in this experience.

As Friday approached, we were finishing up interior work like electrical, walls, putting in windows, putting up the fence, getting plants… and then painting and dry walling the ceilings. Overall this week was such a wonderful experience being able to work alongside the family to help build their home. By giving them this new space there is hope for a better future where they do not need to worry about having a roof over their head, but have a spot for their kids to thrive and for the family to continue to contribute to the community.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 25th, 2016

Building Together

The prep week was filled with hard work in preparation for our build-week. We helped to pour the cement pad and we also built the walls of the house up to the windows. It was a very humbling experience to be able to construct the house alongside the family we are building for. They were so eager to help and it was easy to tell that they were extremely excited and grateful for this house. This house is the first one LiveDifferent is building in Mexico that is built out of cement blocks. The houses LiveDifferent builds in Mexico are typically built out of wood but LiveDifferent has teamed up with a local cement company here to help to provide one of their workers with a house. The father of the family we’re building for is employed with this company so it’s pretty neat to see a community coming together to provide an honest, hardworking family with a home.

Building alongside and interacting with the family has been fun as well. They have 2 kids named Guillermo and Elizabeth. They are really cute and are always trying to help as much as they can. Whenever one of us needed a break from working we usually would go and colour with Elizabeth which was also really cool because its something that you can do with someone without having a language in common. Although most of our week was spent building the house, we still got the opportunity to go teach English and art classes at the Chula Vista Community center. I have been a part of teaching the English classes for the past 4 weeks and it is an awesome experience especially since I want to go to school to become a teacher. The children we teach are so excited to learn and are almost always engaged in what we are teaching them. Some days are better than others in terms of their attention spans but overall it is great. The reason why I really like the English classes is because it makes me feel like I’m actually making a difference; the kids are leaving afterwards hopefully knowing at least a bit more English and that’s super cool. I love the idea that I had a part in furthering their English as a second language while I am also learning Spanish from them.

Jadyn – Current 2016 Academy Student


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 11th, 2016

Cleaning supplies for Nuevo Renacer – Nov 9th 2016

The Dominican Republic is currently facing one of the harshest and rainy “wet” seasons in the last 5-7 years. Waterways are overflowing and some homes have even been swept into close by rivers. Although our ongoing development in Nuevo Renacer has helped reduce the impact of the flooding, in recent days the heavy rains have caused the waters to rise higher, creating difficult situations for many families. The water drains fairly quickly after the rain stops, however, many homeowners are struggling to avoid mold and bacteria from occurring.

One way that Sandra, a community leader in Nuevo Renacer, suggested we could help is by providing cleaning products. Using money from LiveDifferent’s ‘Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund’, our staff purchased cleaning products that Sandra is distributing where needed. This is a small example of how the fund, and an ongoing relationship with the communities we work in, can make a difference.

Contribute to the ‘Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund’

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 9th, 2016

Mi Casa es Su Casa

This week began with meeting our host families. I think it’s safe to say that we were all a little bit nervous and a little bit excited at the same time. The nervousness stemmed from the thought of engaging with strangers for an entire evening once a week, and only speaking Spanish. The excitement came from a place of curiosity and passion. What would it be like to cook dinners with our family and learn their traditions? How would we get to know each family member through our limited Spanish and their limited English? Would we feel out of place or right at home?

I arrived at my host family’s house with all of these questions still on my mind. We pulled up to the house and as my partner, Claire, and I stumbled out of the LiveDifferent van we were greeted by five smiling faces all running to give us welcoming hugs. Irma, the oldest of the five children, is twelve. Flor and Anna Jessica look like twins but they are nine and seven years old. Damien is four and, like most four year-olds, is full of non-stop energy. Mikey is the youngest and is only two. At first he is shy but eventually is just as energetic as his brother. Before visiting our host home we were told that the children’s mother had began a new job and would not be able to join us on Monday evenings. She works most of the week and while she is away Irma takes care of her younger sisters and brothers. Although this was not the “traditional” family we were expecting, the reality is that this is a very normal family in Mexico. It happens often that the parent/s must work and the kids wait at home.

The van pulled away after dropping us off, and we were on our own. The kids pulled us inside and Irma began by giving us a tour of their house. They have a kitchen/dining room with a propane stove and a small wood table, two small rooms with bunk beds (one for the girls and one for the boys), and their mother’s room. We sat down at the table and the girls all pulled out their English books to show us what they were learning in school. They were so excited to practice their English with native English speakers and we were astonished by how much they knew. Mikey was hiding behind them throughout this time and every time we spoke to him he would shrink a little further behind his sister’s back. Eventually, we coaxed him out and before we knew it he was running around the house screaming in delight and grabbing hold of our hands to come play. We did not cook supper with our family that night. Instead, their mom had prepared pasta for everyone before leaving for work. We discovered this when Damien climbed up on a chair, scooped out some noodles into a bowl, and declared them ready for us to eat. He served Claire and I, along with all of his siblings and sat down last to eat.

One of the biggest impacts I took away from this first evening was the lack of electricity in their home. I had never realized how much I took light for granted until I was attempting to do small tasks in the dark. Simple chores like washing the dishes became more difficult as we stood outside in the cold, unable to see. Irma lit a candle inside and this was the kids’ only source of light to do their homework, read their books, and colour. It was an instinct for me to turn on my phone’s flashlight as soon as these tasks became even remotely hard. I held up the light as we finished the dishes, shone it on the story books I was reading aloud, and propped it up in front of my supper so I could see while I was eating. In my mind light is something I consider a necessity and I didn’t think twice about using my flashlight. However, I realized that the kids don’t have any devices with flashlights and navigating in the dim light of the candle is just a normality in their life.

Conversation filled the night. Not necessarily words of the same language but facial expressions, gestures, and games. In a way, this form of communication was far more effective than words could ever be. I was able to practice my Spanish by telling Irma about myself and my family. Claire and I are still laughing at the surprise on Irma’s face when I accidentally told her I am twenty-eight years old instead of eighteen. Claire coloured with the younger ones as Irma and I pulled out two cups and sang the Spanish and English version of the cup song. My worries of feeling out of place vanished as we bonded with these kids.

I am excited for the many weeks to come in which we will be able to hang out more with our host family and continue to develop this amazing bond.
Aeriel – Current 2016 Academy Student


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 4th, 2016