BERLIN’S DAY OF REALIZATION
My parents have protected me incredibly well as a child, preventing me from any danger in the Philippines, and as well as Canada but I forget that children, are just children and although they live in poverty they know what is wrong and right and that they also know how to show their love and respect for people. I can’t imagine holding a strangers hand, who looked a lot different from me if I was a child. I forget sometimes that they are people, no matter how desperate their lives can be.Everyday here is unpredictable but exciting in so many levels. We took our open back truck to our work site. In the morning we split apart and worked on building a kitchen for a school, by shoveling away through rocky ground. I have never sweat so much in my life! Then we switched teams by painting a layer of paint on the smooth concrete surface of the walls of the soon-to-be church upstairs. During these moments I was thinking about my dad and how he taught me how to paint, and also how my muscles built for dragon boating came in handy. We had a lunch back at the resort and then drove back to our work site, soon after. In the afternoon, it was my half of the teams time to explore the village nearby. Arriving at the village we greeted the many faces that stared at our foreign faces and smiled. The children ran to us, including this little boy named Felito. Automatically, the children grabbed our hands and wanted to play. At this point, Poverty in the Domincan Republic, was exactly the same way as I saw it in the Philippines . So their lifestyle wasn’t a shock to me. We stopped for a bit, and watched a few kids play dominos, and I joined in. Of course I didn’t win, but it was great to see them enjoy themselves, as they smacked the dominos on a thin wooden board that they balanced on their laps. It was awesome to have a feeling that they were open to let a stranger join in. I was also amazed, throughout this trip, that 3 certain things are universal and understandable, a wave, a smile, and a nod. The most powerful to me, is the smile. And walking through a place, looking extremely different from the people, I was amazed at how accepting they all were by showing these 3 signs.It was such an honor when they invited us to their local church, it was probably as big as my classroom, but definitely had character. All the children sat with their mugs & cups for what they were receiving after as they sang and chanted just the way we do back at my church. I understood two words as I sang and chanted with them, Christo and Alleluia! They played musical chairs and one group on their own humanitarian trip came sang them a song.As they day continued on, I think that I was so distracted by the kids who sat on my lap, played with my camera and glasses, that I forgot to look around. When I finally looked up to see them singing this beautiful song, I was so overwhelmed. I looked at all the sizes of children singing one song altogether and it finally hit me. As if something pierced my heart, and made the tears all pour out of my eyes. Many thoughts went through my head, one being “they are just like me”. Soon the numbers that, we are statistically seen as, flew over my head and I saw each and every child as who they really are, human beings. They sang with such strength, power and love for one another as well as Christ. As a religious person I felt extremely thankful for God giving me this opportunity to be with such amazing people. My tears soon caught attention to the kids, who automatically comforted me. The children tapped me on the shoulder and comforted me with their smiles. One girl named Jin, stared at me and, made a motion signifying her asking if I was crying. Then once I said yes she held my arm and slowly placed her head on my shoulder. I hugged her gently as a thank you. It’s crazy how simple gestures and actions speak much louder than words.As we were leaving a child in the church placed something in my hands. I stared at this gold bird that he made out of wire. I asked for his name, and it was something along the lines of Rueloso. I thanked him for (what I am assuming) was a gift, even though I barely acknowledged his presence throughout the day. I took a photo with him, because he provided me with so much happiness, for giving me something. Something so small, and not worth anything materialistically, but means the world to me. Considering that I was suppose to be the one that gives me something. It all went so fast, less than a minute that I spent time with him. One click of a camera and I had to leave. When walking back I looked into my hands and saw this golden bird that was beautifully crafted by this child. Tears poured out once again because I learned how easily attached I am to children who have shared even a second of a moment with me. Quickly as religious as I am I prayed to God, thanking him once again for moments like this, and for helping me realize that my passion is to affect people, like Gueloso, Jin, Felito, Hnobe, Cario, Sallysandra, Hieso, Tiguel and so many other children that have opened their arms and hearts to me.
A lot has happened throughout these few days we are here. Everyday I grow attached to more and more people, but everyday I have to say goodbye. But I realized that even though the sadness is brought upon us when we say goodbye their impact that created happiness on us is much greater. Don’t ever forget that no matter what has happens to you; don’t ever be sad it’s over, but to be thankful for it happening.
Today this trip that feels like a dream just became a reality. ~Berlin, a participant on Hero Holiday Dominican Republic July 2009To hear more from the JN Burnett team check out their blog page at: http://burnettkids.blogspot.com/