Fierce on the Worksite and on Camera — Q&A with Natalia

Natalia and her school worked really hard, making a big difference in the lives of a special community in the Dominican Republic.

Coming down with her school, the group knew that they were going to be building a house for a family as well as a much-needed medical clinic that would serve the nearby communities. What they didn’t know was that they’d be swept up in an end-of-day photoshoot on the worksite.

We know that kindness takes a bit of effort and can sometimes be a little messy, so along with photographer Chaydin Inverarity, we wanted to highlight this and surprised the group at the end of a long, tiring work day.

How did you first hear about us?

I heard about LiveDifferent Builds in my first year of high school. Gonzaga, my high school, does annual Builds with LiveDifferent.

Why did you want to join us as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic?

As soon as I saw the pictures and heard some of the stories from my peers and teachers who had come back from the trip, I immediately knew I wanted to participate as a volunteer.

What was the highlight from your Build?

There are so many great memories I have from that trip it’s hard to pick just one.

One of my fondest memories I have is when I met this sweet little boy named David. Every Build day, we took a lunch break at a nearby school/church that was down the road from the site. Dozens of kids would rush us to finish our lunch to come outside and play with them. Some of us even went to see the kids before we went to eat. Once I stepped onto the playground for the first time I was astounded. My fellow peers had all found a child to play with, everyone was smiling and laughing (it really was a sight to see). I vividly remember seeing a little boy off the side, not really engaging in any games or interacting with anyone. With the broken Spanish I had, I mustered up the courage to walk over to this little boy and ask what his name was and if he wanted to play. In a heartbeat, he climbed onto my back and we started running around with everyone else. The smile that grew on his face is something I hope to never forget.

Looking around that playground, I can honestly say I’ve never seen such an abundance of genuine laughter and smiles all in one place all at the same time.

Another memory I have was probably a few days into building on the site. In the middle of the site, I don’t exactly remember how or why but I paused and just looked around me and saw everyone working together. Everywhere I looked there were bucket lines, cement mixes, pickaxes and shovels being put into use to get the job done. Seeing everyone work together as a unit was so surreal. It then occurred to me that we were really doing it, the house and the clinic were slowly coming together; the walls being built to ensure a family’s safety, a roof to ensure that when it rained the family shouldn’t worry, rooms for the sick to come and wait to be treated. It became clear at that moment that it was really happening.

You were just crushing some of those cement mixes. How did you find the work?

I will be completely honest when I say that working on this Build was one of the most physically demanding things I’ve ever endured. The mixes were not easy, and if I needed to, I’d swap out to catch my breath. Nonetheless, I tried to get in on as many mixes or bucket lines as I could, which allowed me to get to know the construction workers pretty well since they spoke Creole and I could speak French.

After realizing you were in the middle of a surprise photo shoot, what did you think when you saw the final pictures and video?

I’m not really one for pictures, I’ll be honest. That being said, the surprise photo shoot and video really pushed me out of my comfort zone and caught me by surprise. The fact that I’m in Instagram posts, campaign posters and videos that are seen by so many people still baffles me. Every time one of my friends sees me on their feed, they’ll screenshot it and send it to me and be like, “look it’s you!”. I’m taken aback each time but it gives me an opportunity to reminisce, which I appreciate.

What did you take away from your experience on a LiveDifferent Build?

LiveDifferent’s saying “life is about people” proved to be true each and every day of that Build. While I got the chance to be part of something that gave a family a home and would benefit the health of the community, I am eternally grateful for everyone on that trip that gave me something that—while intangible—still serves as something for me to hang onto, to look back at and to remind me that there are still people in this world that genuinely want to do good. I am incredibly thankful for the community for opening up their hearts to us and making us a part of their story. When I find myself thinking back to those 8 days that would go on to change my life, my heart honestly just feels so full.

Interested in making a difference in the lives of others or want to learn more?

Author: Joshua Dueck

Date: February 5th, 2019

Megan’s March Break Build

Megan's March Break Build

What Megan had to say about her Build.

“These ten days had such a huge impact on me. They changed the way I view love and connection, blurred the lines between friends and family and opened my eyes to the complexities of poverty. I’ve learned about the nature of humanity and the joy of togetherness. I met some of the hardest working and kindest people ever and was lucky enough to hear some of their stories. I’ve fallen completely in love with a country full of life, and before I’d even left I knew I needed to come back- I can’t stay away.”

Sign up for the experience of a lifetime!


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 29th, 2017

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School Blogs and Updates

April 23rd
We arrived safely to the Dominican Republic on Saturday evening. We met with the Live Different staff, and checked into our resort room.
April 24th
On Saturday morning we attended mass. We were wearing our LiveDifferent t-shirts and actually got called up to the altar to represent the organization! A student from our group said a small speech about why are here and what our mission is. We even made it to the local news channel!
After mass, we visited a community where LiveDifferent has previously built houses. It was a crowded community of about 3000 people that live by a river. Because of rain, the river would often overflow and flood some homes. We were able to meet the families for which we were building houses. We had the opportunity to speak with them and ask them about their life. They were very open and friendly, and grateful for what is soon going to be their new home. We finished off the day perfectly with a nice dinner and karaoke!
April 25th 2016: Project Day 1
Today was a very exciting and productive day. We woke up to a little bit of rain, and got ready to head to the worksite. Before we arrived, we stopped at the two houses the previous year’s Life Different group had built – it was emotional for the people who returned this year. They got to see the house they built and how it was very well taken care of, the beautiful family that is still so grateful for their new home, and the fact that their old house would have been flooded due to the rain this morning. For the newcomers, it was amazing to see the expressions and joy this family had because of the new house, and because of Life Different. Thinking about it now, we are excited to see that our students, with LiveDifferent’s help, will have the privilege to build another beautiful home for yet another beautiful family by the end of this week.
After the bumpy bus ride to our current worksite, we were given instructions and got right into work. Some of us mixed cement, others carried bricks and buckets or shoveled dirt, and others spoke to the family through our trusted translator Rafael or visited a family just a few houses down to experience a “Day In the Life” of that family. We learned so much about what it takes to build a house, and it was quite different from what we were used to.
Everyone has been working very hard. We’re all strong, determined, and happy to be where we are. We’re working alongside contractors, who taught us and helped us build the house. Luckily it was cloudy today, and it would sometimes rain which was refreshing. It was very muddy, and our house backs onto a steep valley. One of the families we’re building for consisted of a pregnant woman, her husband, and two children. The house they are currently living in is wooden house that’s close to a river.
At around noon we left to go to pastor Garcia’s church for lunch. We were all together, smiling, laughing, sharing stories and eating our food. A few kids came by, and they loved to hang on our backs and play tag with each other. We would practice speaking Spanish by asking them their names and how they were feeling today. I noticed how many kids here in the Dominican Republic do not wear shoes outside. I didn’t know whether it was their choice, or whether they couldn’t afford any, or didn’t have any. It was pouring rain and the beginning of our lunch, and the kids would just walk barefoot on the cold, hard and slippery cement, but it was like it didn’t bother them one bit.
After lunch we returned to the worksite. We continued our hard work for a few more hours before we left to go back to the resort. By the end of the work day, we literally put our blood, sweat, and tears into this house. It is an experience that will stay with us forever, and change the family’s life for the better.
April 26th 2016: Project Day 2
Today was an easier day because we weren’t so overwhelmed with this new environment. Also, the family we were building for was very generous; they cooked a local meal we call fried pig, but to them its called “chicharon”. It was absolutely delicious! They made us feel at home by eating and laughing with us. It was very nice and heart warming to know that they accepted us into their home. Also when it came to the house building, we worked to finish off leveling the floors and started the smooth coating on the front of the house. And of course the kids were out to play today, jumping on peoples backs, talking and laughing with us. We also started playing basketball with them, but our competitive natures came out and it became a teacher and student game.
April 27th 2016: Project Day 3
The houses are now halfway done, but there’s still a lot to do. We learned to communicate with the contractors through hand movements and simple Spanish phrases like “agua”, “aqui” and “si” and “no”. When the contractors needed more cement mixture they would shout “mekla, mekla” and we would all form a bucket line to pass down the mixture. They would also shout “agua, agua” when they needed water and “no mas” for no more.
After the workday, we took showers and got ready for a nice dinner in the neighbouring city. We had dinner right by the sea, and it was beautiful and delicious. At some point during the meal, a mariachi band sang to us. It made the night even more special.
April 28th : Project Day 4; Final Project Day
I was excited and nervous about today because I really hoped we could paint, and because I had my Day in the Life experience in the afternoon. When we arrived at the worksite, as always, we were surprised at how hardworking the contractors are. They would always leave after us, arrive before us, and have a much shorter lunch than us. Because of them, we learned how to build a house, and because of them we were able to paint today.
The priority was to level the floors. A group of people pick-axed the dirt from the land across the road and brought it into the house, a group sifted sand that would be used to create a mixture (“mekla”) for the smooth coat of the house, and a group painted. We all had our designated jobs to do, we had music, and we just enjoyed it all. Although our jobs were hard, we had an amazing team of students, contractors and LiveDifferent leaders that made it a lot more fun.
After lunch, I headed off with two of my classmates and translator Anthony for Day in the Life. We visited a single and unemployed mother of five daughters, who also took care of a one-year-old son who wasn’t even hers. We helped them clean the house by sweeping and mopping, and we helped make dinner. They taught us how to make chicken and rice, and we even tasted it. It was really good! One of the daughters is actually a singer, and she sang a song for us. It was beautiful! She told us how she won a singing competition when she was only twelve! The mother was telling us how she spends most of her income on transporting her daughters to school because they live so far away from it. Their house was actually build by LiveDifferent, and the family was still so overwhelmed and grateful that now they can sleep soundly in a dry place when it rains. It was great to see that even after three years they took care of their home very well. We knew that the homes we were building would also be taken care of very well.
April 29th : House Dedication Day
Today was not a work day. In the morning we visited a monkey jungle, and the ceremony for house-dedication will begin in the afternoon. The monkey jungle was very fun! We had little monkeys eating out of our hands and sitting on top of our heads. We learned that the proceeds of the tickets actually go to the medical and dental clinic in the back of the jungle. There are volunteers who offer free services towards those in the community that need it most. It was very cool to see that.
At around 2:00 PM Friday, we all wore our LiveDifferent t-shirts and headed to the worksites. Students who came on the trip on the previous year gave speeches and handed the keys to the families. It was very emotional. A lot of us cried because we put so much effort and hard work into these two houses, and we were so happy that now the families would not have water up to their knees when it rains. The faces on the families was priceless. The children were so happy. These houses would not only belong to one family, but everyone in the community was welcome inside especially when it rains. It was so beautiful to see how much we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come as a team.
After the ceremony, we said our goodbyes to the families. It was very difficult since we built such strong relationships with each other. A girl became best friends with one of our students, others gave bracelets and letters. It was so sweet, which made it more difficult to say goodbye. When we arrived back to the resort, we were given a very motivational and inspiring speech by one of the LiveDifferent representatives – Cole. Some of us ended in tears. After that, we said our goodbyes to the LiveDifferent workers that guided us on the trip. We formed some really deep connections with people during these eight days. It was so sad to leave such an amazing place filled with such amazing people. We had such a great time and experience that we will never forget.
April 30th : Departure Day
Our flight leaves in the late afternoon, so we had all morning to do whatever we wanted. We sipped our last “Banana Mamas” and “Pina Coladas”, played our last games of pool, and ate our last meals from the buffet in the Dominican Republic by the sea. We all had fun and shared our last moments here together. We said our final goodbyes to the staff of the resort with whom we also built relationships, and the LiveDifferent leaders. This day was also full of tears. Although some of these memories will fade, the future of the people to whom we build houses will be forever changed. This is just the beginning of some of the amazing and life-changing things my team and I will do in our lives.
– Viktoria, St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School Volunteer

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 28th, 2016

I just came home from a LiveDifferent Build…now what?

I have now been on two trips with LiveDifferent (both of which were in the Dominican) and each time, the goodbyes only seem to get harder. With Live Different, you build so much more than a home for a family. You build relationships, with both your teammates and community members; you build self confidence, understanding that you are capable of creating change; you build hope, for a family that may have found it hard to hold onto; and you build dreams, as you reflect on the things you have the learned, the ways you have changed, and the goals you have for the future.
Returning home the first time was incredibly difficult for me. I came home to people who couldn’t comprehend the way I had been touched by such an experience, and an environment so clouded by things I no longer saw as important. So, the second time around, I vowed to find better ways to adjust, and refused to let the fire that LiveDifferent had lit inside of me to burn out. After mulling over my thoughts and piecing together every part of my experience, I came up with a list of things I thought were important to me; things I wanted to maintain long after my experience in the Dominican Republic. Hopefully, these things will also help many of you as you process what you’ve experienced, and the ways in which you can apply this knowledge in order to create change in your life back at home.
1. Surround yourself with people who share your passion for change.
I learned pretty quickly that when people with big hearts and similar passions surround you, you thrive continuously and endlessly. It is so refreshing having conversations with people like this because it provides a portal for you to share your knowledge, your values, your thoughts and concerns, with a level of understanding that others aren’t able to give you. My involvement with Live Different has allowed me to build lifelong friendships with people exactly like this.
2. Maintain a thirst for knowledge and remember that you never know everything.
I recently met a middle-aged gentleman at my university. We engaged in small talk and he asked what I was taking in school. Upon telling him I was an anthropology student, he suggested I look into “ethnobotany,” explaining to me that it was the study of how people of particular cultures interact with plants and biodiversity. How cool is that?! Had I not given this guy five minutes of my time to have a short conversation, I probably still wouldn’t know that field even existed. This reminded me that you can learn something from everyone – whether it be someone very close to you, or someone you meet once and never see again. Remember to take advantage of this. Engage in conversation, not because you feel like you should, but because you want to. Keep an open mind about all the things you can take out of a simple interaction with someone, and let this guide you in speaking with as many people as possible. Of course there will be times where you are not so interested in what someone’s saying, but there will be just as many times you find yourself saying, “Whoa! Who would have thought?” – so make sure you take that chance! To take this further, spend time researching what you’re interested in. This doesn’t have to mean spending your Friday night on Google skimming through articles, but it could very well mean spending your Friday night watching a documentary about something you’re passionate about. Take advantage of the easy ways to stimulate your brain and continue learning.
3. Set goals for yourself… and stick to them.
Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish, places you’d like to see, and people you’d like to make contact with. They can be short-term or long-term goals, and they can be as “far-fetched” as you’d like, but whatever they are, I think it’s important to have personal goals for the future. It’s a way to keep your mind and body busy and stimulated, and for you to feel a continued sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Once you have a list, narrow it down to a couple things you’d like to devote yourself to in the now, and brainstorm ways in which you can reach those goals.
4. Don’t get overwhelmed.
When I was first in the Dominican, I was immensely overwhelmed by the magnitude of poverty and desperation that I saw. I couldn’t really comprehend the things I was seeing, smelling, and hearing, nor could I formulate any sort of understanding of how I could possibly change it. Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” As my time in the communities continued, this became all the more real to me, and I realized the importance of remembering we cannot change the world overnight. Rather than feeling hopeless about the number of people living in poverty, I think it’s important to focus on what you are doing and whom you are helping at one particular moment. If it wasn’t for you, the organization and community that you’re working with, and your amazing team members, one family’s life might not have been changed. Focus on the now, and take it day by day.
5. Keep a healthy balance.
I’ve talked a lot about ways to maintain your global citizenship after returning from a humanitarian trip, but it’s nevertheless important to keep a balanced lifestyle. There are times where it’s important to be kind to yourself and to do things simply because you will enjoy them. Go out for dinner with your friends, plan a spa weekend, or pick up tickets to see your favourite band. Make sure to stay involved in the activities that you love, whether it’s sports, art, music, fashion, movies, comic books, etc. Whatever it may be, it’s important to do things for yourself sometimes without feeling guilty.
6. Think of small ways to make a difference. 
Remember what I said above about not getting overwhelmed, and remembering that we can’t change the world overnight? Well, there are some things that you can change. Think of something small that you can take on, whether it’s volunteering in your local community, doing advocacy work for a cause you care about, or maybe even fundraising for LiveDifferent (or another charity that matters to you) so that they can continue to bring change to people who need it. Even something as simple as asking your parents or neighbours if there’s a way you can help them out will make a huge difference, and will show you how easy it is to bring change in small ways.
So far, these are the practices that have assisted me in ensuring that I don’t lose the momentum that being a part of a Build has brought to my life. These positive choices have helped me see that I can continue to make a difference, both in my own life, and in my community. I hope that others can benefit from these lessons, and find ways to put them to use so that we can all “LiveDifferent” as we continue to find ways to bring about positive change.
– Haley, LiveDifferent Volunteer

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 28th, 2016

Dominican Medical Trip – Second Medical Clinic

Today was our 2nd medical clinic and as far as we were concerned it was a great day! We started our day off at the registration table which was perfect for use since we got to meet all of the patients. It was an eye opening experience all around, but especially when we meet our little friend, Johnny. He decided to hangout with us all morning at our station and showed us no emotion, and nothing we did could make him smile. We made him a little paper airplane and although he showed no signs of gratitude, he would not let it go.315667_10150280579430326_95760375325_7951758_1301756_n.jpgCloser to the end of the day Johnny finally spoke to us, and all he could say was, “I’m hungry”. It was disheartening to think that everyday we slide food off our plates into the garbage because we’re full, or throw out a banana because it is bruised. Especially when there are children like Johnny who are hungry and suffer from malnutrition because they are only able to eat once a day and the meal generally consists of rice & beans (and loaded with salt).Halfway through the clinic the time came for use to switch stations and our new position was taking vitals. Within minutes the language barrier became evident. We were trying so hard to explain, “no shoes on the scale” or “open wide and close your mouth for the thermometer”. Luckily for us, two young moms stepped up to the plate and helped us out. It was hard to even explain how beautifully people can work together even when they speak very different languages. In addition it was amazing that these two ladies had such mothering qualities at such a young age.312477_10150280582640326_95760375325_7951797_6764987_n.jpgAs the clinic was wrapping up we were able (via an interpreter) to talk to our helpers more and learn about their personal lives. One of the young moms was only 13 years old and pregnant with her first child. She aspired to be a nurse, but with their living and financial situation, it was evident that might not be possible. It opened our eyes to the idea that we often take advantage of our education opportunities, and that because of poverty, people that could possibly cure cancer or invent a new way to conserve our resources are being held back from accomplishing something great!All in all we had an amazing and life changing day. We leave with memories that will stick with us forever.~ Katie and Tanja

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 29th, 2011

Boston Pizza Day 3 – Cinderblocks, Gringos, and Kung Fu Panda!

Our days start at 9am with an open-aired, windblown truck ride to our work site where we’ve spent the last two days. What started as three skeleton buildings are transforming before our eyes into homes for our new friends. Each home is no bigger than 250 sq.ft., but surprisingly, the number of people working in the congested area work cooperatively and functionally to reach a common goal.228919_10150267975310326_95760375325_7832348_2381872_n.jpgI had no idea there was a tradesman inside me. I’ve learned to build walls with mortar and cinderblock; mix concrete, and haul it by bucket-loads; and sieve sand for wall mud. But, what surprised me even more was the participation of the community, who join us each morning with smiles, to work hard to build homes for their neighbours.Our labour intensive days are broken up by time to play with the children and interact with the community. While most of our Spanish vocabulary is limited to “Hola” and “Por Favor”, the children are most receptive to the universal language of “play”. Game boys, Ipods, and gaming systems are substituted by basic skipping ropes, colouring books, and frisbees, bringing joyful shouts of delight from the children and “gringos” alike. By the end of the day we climb back onto our trucks, tired, dirty and sweaty, but a happy crew.This evening we were treated to an open-air theatre in a small Haitian/Dominican community. Each one of us had at least one or more children in our laps to share the movie experience with. Half-way into the movie I recall looking around, and thinking that there was no other place I’d rather have been at that very moment. I was covered in sweat again, but this time not from the sun or the hard work we’d been enduring all day long, but from the body heat generated from the four little humans that surrounded me. A blue tarp was laid out on the ground in front of a big white screen featuring “Kung-Fu Panda”, where we sat still for the next two hours under the star and moon lit sky. I’m not sure who enjoyed this evening most…Julie

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 11th, 2011

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 20th, 2011

Day to Day of the Ft. McMurray Hero Holiday

ft-mac.jpgFriday, May 20thBetween the times of 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., the 13 of us met up in Fort McMurray, and drove down to the airport. We soon got onto the plane, and that’s when reality set in, we’re going to Mexico! Many thoughts passed our minds, what these people would be like, how they would react to us building a house in four days for total strangers. Some of the team thought that the locals may be unfriendly and aggressive, others thought that they would be scared or fear us, some thought that they’d be kind and friendly, and many just didn’t know what to expect. We played lots of games while traveling and arrived at LA safe and sound, where we took a bus to San Diego. Upon arriving we ate like kings at a large buffet. We went to bed after eating, hardly able to sleep knowing that we’re going to Mexico tomorrow.Saturday, May 21stWe awoke and ate breakfast, then it was a speedy departure…off to Mexico. It was about a five hour bus ride. Along the way we stopped and I ate one of the most fantastic tacos I’ve ever eaten. When we arrived at the Hero Holiday house we went to our rooms and got settled. Next we finally got to meet with the family we were building for. You should have seen the house they lived in and their standard of living, it all seemed so bad compared to what we have, yet they were still really happy and joyful. The locals were kind, proving many of our thoughts wrong. The bus driver and our trip leader, Andrew, gave us a surprise on the way home…we were going to meet the School of Leadership students who were living in Mexico and then going to a masked wrestling match! The wrestling match was awesome! The loochadores were wild and crazy, it was something we’d never forget.ft-mac-2.jpgSunday, May 22ndToday was the day we starting to build on the house, we discussed the rules and safety measures and then we were off. Throughout this 6 hour work time we built all the walls and roof panels. It was shocking, yet encouraging how much we accomplished as a team. It seemed as we worked, the family grew closer and friendlier towards us. After we finished working we went back to the house and ate some the largest pizzas I’ve ever seen. Then we were off to church, they spoke in Spanish, but there were headsets to translate what was being said in English for us gringos. The preacher was up lifting, and the music gave a different feeling being in an alternative language. When we got home we had a campfire and sang more songs.Monday, May 23rdWe were off work to again! Today we got the 4 walls and roof up (lots of hard work!). Some of us climbed up and built the roof, others helped set up the walls, cut out a square for the windows, and painted the outside of the house. At the end of the work day we were off to eat some authentic Mexican tacos. Many of us went right to bed when we got back to the house…this kind of work tires you out!  ft-mac-3.jpg

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 20th, 2011

Reasons Why I love Mexico

With another full week under my belt, I’m getting fuller & fuller of reasons why I love Mexico. Some tidbits? Sure, I can share a few=)The UCM Hero Holiday team =  amazing. Great people, great conversations, great hugs, great love. It felt good to feel such love. I loved that every day we had to re-plan meals to match their evolving plans. One day I made berry-protein smoothies with Antonio, and tried to teach him how important it is to clean up after himself. (And the next day, I smiled to myself when I was over at his house & saw that he’d not only made another one by himself, but cleaned up like a champ!) I spent the afternoon with Julia & Nohemy on Cinqo De Mayo, and got a hair cut (it was seriously necessary!)Planning to watch “Toy Story 3” with the group – and then forgetting all of the equipment at the house. Going back, getting the equipment, and watching the movie en espanol at the build site with the community members. Matt & Sandra, Tyson & Amber – the group leaders and their constant encouragement. That the group was grateful for all the work we did – and told us.Friday morning pancakes for the group, and Tuesday morning French Toast for my family! Cooking as per order; chocolatemaking breakie for group chip or regular. Making special pancakes – Mickey Mouse for Sarah, and Smiley face for Jo. Writing LOVE in chocolate when the smiley face all melted together! The pineapple juice at Smokey’s Taco Stand ROCKING my world. Pedro asking ‘you happy?‘ Working on my resume & getting places on it! An amazing Friday afternoon at El Eden pool, complete with a manicure and a veggie burger. Reading happy messages from friends & asking lots of questions.girls night out Zumba class with Gabby and the girls. (I KID YOU NOT – EARLIER THIS WEEK I LEGIT RIPPED A PAIR OF PANTS I WAS DANCING SO HARDCORE. THIS CLASS IS NOT A JOKE.) We had a girls night at Old Mill; complete with…UFC? How were we to know a big fight would replace our live music and dancing? Watching “In Her Shoes” at Nohemy’s house and talking about boys on Sunday afternoon. Talking to my mom on Skype. Walking with my roommates in whatever direction we felt like. Stopping at Maggie & David’s house. Eating cake at Maggie & David’s for Dia de Las Madres. Learning to play Uno. Looking at prospective families for groups tojosh rock climbing build for this summer. I was leader of the day yesterday! It was fun but stressful. My favorite expenditure was the giant box of strawberries for $5. Last night I slept in a hammock under the stars!!!..until I woke up and had to pee. Today I pushed kids on swings & made Chai Tea Concentrate. Now, I’m going to go sit and relax & then fall asleep early so that manana (tomorrow)...I can do more things that I love.I love Mexico, I love learning who I am, and I love not having any idea who that is. And as per Maggie’s instructions…I’m enjoying life along the way.All peace and love and positive & a side of SUNSHINE, Leah

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 17th, 2011

Friday, May 6th – A Busy Day!

It feels like months have gone by since we arrived here at Baja Mexico when actually its just been a few days. In just these few days we’ve built two little but amazing homes that will impact lives of two families for a lifetime. UCM 1 roofing Yesterday was day four of construction, the last day of work. All that was left in the houses to do was putting in inner walls, bed frames, a bit of roofing and painting. We split into two crews, the shopping crew and building crew. While the building crew finished up working on last touches and fixes, the shopping crew shopped for furniture, groceries and household items. Shopping was an experience. We first stopped at the furniture place. We needed basic furniture like a table, mattresses, chairs and shelves or dressers. It was an incredible feeling having to pick a dinner table knowing that this family would sit around it for every dinner. Although picking a table that could fit a family of 9  (or more!) was kind of tricky but we managed to find something suitable. After all the mattress “testing” (which was basically us jumping up and down on them to make sure they were good enough) and dresser picking was done we did some bargaining to get them as low as possible. And then we were off to the grocery store. There we picked about a months supply of groceries and necessities for them. It was nice to see and pick what things were going into the house, and more and more the house became a reality. The shopping crew joined the building crew in the afternoon to help put in those final touches. And voila! The houses were all done and they were beautiful. Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent with the family and children. Playing with the kids proved to be as tiring as hammering in nails all day. They wanted to be taken on never ending piggyback rides. And even though we were panting, trying to catch our breaths they wanted go again and again (they seemed to run on an impossible amount of energy). And who could say no to those eager adorable faces? For supper, we were invited by the lady who mortgaged the pieces of land we were building on, to her place. Traditional fish and chicken taco, dinner couldn’t have been better. After the traditional and fun dinner we headed to a house where we would be playing a movie on a big screen projector for the local community. We watched ‘Toy Story 3’ in Spanish. It was sweet to see the kids so excited about the movie. Overall it was a packed day and we were exhausted by the end of it. But all of us had a sense of accomplishment and that was calming. Today we are dedicating the houses to the families and we’re so excited! I have a feeling we won’t ever forget this day, and neither will the families.-From Baja Mexico

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 7th, 2011