Four Thousand Zucchinis

We returned to the fields again and this time was more interesting for me because I was actually able to go. I was sick the day before and had to stay behind.  I have some previous farming experience from my work back in Canada. We harvested zucchini, cutting them off the plant and then throwing them in the dirt to be collected later. This surprised us all. In Mexico, only the small little zucchini’s are able to be sold, apparently no one wants to eat the larger ones. The concept still confuses me, the fact that so much food goes to waste simply because of its shape and size, because the market prefers them a certain way. Ever wonder why all the vegetables and fruit on the shelf are the exact same? Where did the rest go that didn’t fit the criteria? This farmer figured many of the unwanted zucchini’s would be used for pig food.

We must have picked thousands of zucchini – and I kept count so I do mean thousands, 4,125 to be exact! The labour was hard and our backs are sore from all the bending. It’s hard for me to imagine doing that back breaking work every day for years, only making enough to just get by. I just cannot imagine it. I’ve tried comparing my previous farm work to this but it’s not really comparable. The workload was higher than I have ever experienced.

Being sick and missing a day of work at the fields, I realized that if I was actually living in this situation, staying home sick isn’t really an option. Let’s pretend I’m the only one in my family earning money.  I can’t take a sick day if I’m only earning enough to get by each day. I would not have the same luxury I do back home when I am sick, to take a day, sometimes with pay, to rest and recover. This is something that I had not really thought about before this trip, and something that I am happy to have recognized. This week is full of new and thought provoking experiences, and I am learning quite a lot.

– Written by George, Academy Student 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 5th, 2015

Different Beginnings

I’ve always been different. I knew that very early growing up as a person with a physical disability. Having cerebral palsy can leave you misunderstood by others, but I saw power in that. If people are reading you wrong, then you have the opportunity to help them understand who you are, and most importantly what you’re capable of.
My mission in life has always been to make a difference in the world. I never knew what that would involve or how to go about it, but I’ve forged down a lot of avenues in search of it. I have been doing volunteer work for most of my life and it’s been my way to find purpose since I’ve been struggling to gain employment since I graduated from college, and then university. Since I couldn’t get someone to hire me for a job, I just decided finally to create one! After all, is your life’s purpose determined by a paycheck? I didn’t feel that it was. So when the opportunity to join the Kiwanis Aktion Club of Lakeshore, a service club for adults with disabilities that is dedicated to working with other Kiwanis branches to help the children of the world, I jumped at it! I became a member in July of 2014 and am currently the acting Vice President. In my mind I have a job, a purpose. And I planned to take that as far as I could.
After being turned away by a lot of volunteer groups to do international volunteer work because they didn’t think I could be “useful”, I found LiveDifferent. I was just doing yet another online search one day and happened to stumble across the website. Not expecting anything much, I sent an email to inquire about what their Academy program was about. That started the email correspondence with Jenn at LiveDifferent, and when I told her about my disability, she acted like it was no big deal. Suddenly somebody saw what I could do regardless of the fact that I had two forearm crutches in my hands when I walked. It was the most awesome feeling ever. I’d found my chance!
Julia Roberts said in the movie Steel Magnolias (one of my favorites!), “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” Well if you ask me, I’m getting way more than thirty minutes and I can’t wait to embark on this adventure! After all it’s not what people think you can do, but what you actually do that really matters – and I think, I know, that I and the rest of my Academy team members can make an impact.
– Melissa, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Fall 2015

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: September 15th, 2015

The strength of the Haitian people

Today was a hard, yet inspiring day. We woke up bright and early, at breakfast together and started our trek up the steep hill to the school. After the relief of making it up to the top, and seeing the beautiful view that we would witness while working we were greeted eagerly by all the young Haitian children attending the school. They rushed outside yelling ‘Blons’ which is the name for white people, and shortly after formed a circle around their teachers who led them into the most adorable song and dance. We all took pictures and a few team members even joined in. There were a few children with broken school shoes, frayed socks. One boy I noticed had a badly disfigured foot, so bad he couldn’t walk on the sole of his foot. He walked on the side of it and still managed to wear shoes, walk and kick around a soccer ball like all the other children. He coped with life the way all the other children did, and didn’t let his disability stop him from doing anything he wanted to do.

When we got back to work, I noticed quite a few differences from Haiti to home in Canada. In Haiti when you need some water, you have to send someone all the way down to the well to carry up 5 gallons at a time on top of their heads. In Canada, you would just call in the water truck. The construction worker’s lack of protective gear was alarming. Most of them were slip sliding around in their flip flops every time water got on them during all the cement mixing. None of the workers wore gloves to protect their hands, goggles while smashing rocks, or hard hats for protection.

Seeing our new friends Wesley and Kevinson working so hard shovelling and using the only broken pick axe they could find bought me to tears. I was wearing gloves just to pick up sand and rock filled buckets, immediately passing them to another team members. So after a short while, I couldn’t handle watching them clench their hands in pain anymore. I dug up the extra pair of gloves I had brought along, took off my gloves and gave a glove out to some of the workers. The relief and thankfulness on their faces from such a simple act filled me with such joy. I have formed a friendship with these two boys and I am so thankful to have met them! I have been so moved by everything I was able to witness today and I look forward to more while on this amazing journey in Haiti.

Michaela ~ Haiti Hero Holiday volunteer 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 11th, 2013