The buildup to house dedication day was palpable. We had heard there were amazing changes taking place at the build site on Sunday while team members were away enjoying a kayak ride, zip lining, or visiting with surrendered capuchin monkeys. Tension was mounting – we knew the job was not yet complete. How could we possibly be enjoying such great adventures when we knew there was still work to be done?
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we honoured the memories of the soldiers who died for our freedom – our Canadian freedom. Not a typical place for Remembrance Day as the ceremony location was overlooking the Caribbean Sea. We watched the waves roll in and listened to one of our team members read In Flanders Fields. This was an opportunity to reflect on our freedom as we looked forward to sharing a new-found freedom – that of the families whose lives we had spent the past week changing.
Wearing our poppies proudly, we jumped on to the buses for one last trip to the build site. We passed the same tumbling houses we had seen for days, but for some reason the area seemed to be calm and uncharacteristically quiet along our route. The little boys and girls we had passed each day waving and calling to us were missing, but our sights were set on the five houses at the end of the road where the land meets the sea, and the garbage relentlessly washed up onto the shore.
When we reached the spot previously called Aguas Negras (black water), we began to hear cheers and celebration. We walked over the garbage, through a crowd of young boys chanting and singing, using WestJet frisbees in their hands as tambourines. Crossing the same bridge we had been crossing all week, over the black water, we spotted change. There stood the fruits of our labour. Five humble homes painted cheerful colours, nestled into a community of shacks and shanties.
In a community now named Nuevo Renacer (new revival), there is a new beginning. We helped to change the lives of five families and have given them hope. It all seemed fitting on a day that we reflect on the freedom that was given to us by the sacrifices of others.
We’re a team. Change doesn’t happen because of one person but the efforts of many. It’s been an honour and a privilege to be a part of their lives. We are all forever changed.
Lauren Diemer, Flight Attendant