Like you, I have had my fair share of great parties: amazing locations, crazy moments, and hilarious memories. If I were to pile up all those parties, I still would have a hard time thinking they came close to this one. There were many similarities to other parties such as lots of food, great music, laughter, games, and party favours for everyone. But that was where the similarity ended. The party’s location may have been only 5 minutes from the all-inclusive resorts in this tropical paradise, but it was way more memorable than playing pool games with drunk, sunburned guests – it was in a garbage dump.I can remember when we told them that we wanted to throw them a party. Shocked disbelief, followed by shy smiles. They kept asking me why we would do this? At first, I could read their confusion as they tried to figure out what a group of Canadian teenagers and a community full of stateless Haitian garbage dump workers could possibly have in common. But we persisted, desperate for them to understand something: we just wanted to celebrate them! We simply wanted to show them how much we loved them, how much they meant to us, and the best way we knew to do that was to throw a huge party! How could they resist, honestly?Every day that we came here seemed to mirror the last: watching as the task master of survival forced people onward. Entangled in poverty, disease, and hardship, working from the break of day until late afternoon, hoping to make enough to make it through another day. We were only visitors here, trying to help ease the load and increase the production, but our lives were affected in ways we never deemed possible until that time. We had worked beside them for the past eight days, and now we wanted to celebrate our similarities and our bond: we wanted to have the hugest party they had ever been to.I remember driving through the gates of the garbage dump that afternoon, feeling nervous butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I was 8 years old again, hoping my friends show up to my birthday party. Would these friends turn up? Would they actually come out with their families? As we rounded the last turn, a shout came from the back of the truck I was in, “They really came! Look at all the people!” As we saw the crowds, the cheering started and the waiting kids began to dance up and down and wave, shouting out the names of their friends on the truck. In our excitement, we quickly began to unload the necessary items for a party this size: giant speakers, a huge roasted pig, and gallons and gallons of rice and beans.As the music started to pump out, the kids began to laugh and dance together, grabbing the hands of the closest Canadian visitor. Little boys grabbed the soccer balls and gathered together quickly into teams, as older boys grabbed the baseball and bat and started a second game not far off. The smell of barbecued pork lingered in the air, as people lined up to fill their plates with precious meat that they had not had in a long time. For a brief moment, I stood in the centre of that crowd, closed my eyes, and allowed my senses to drink it all in. All around was laughter and chatter, camaraderie and friendly banter. People enjoying a moment, feeling like they belonged, knowing that they mattered. I opened my eyes and looked around, and burst out laughing as a realization came to me: The crowd that was at this party ranged in age from a few months to 70+ years, crossing every imaginable socioeconomic status, all savouring the moment, and all standing on top of a giant hill of pure garbage!As the sun began to set and the good byes started, so did the tears. They were tears of goodbye, of thankfulness, and of sheer awe at what we had just pulled off. It had taken a lot of work to get this together: I had to sweet talk the municipal workers into opening the gate on their day off, we had to carefully plan and package over 400 gift bags for the families, and we had to overcome many obstacles along the way. But it was all worth it! Like the great philosophers, the Beastie Boys once said, “You gotta fight for your right to PARTY!”Some may wonder what the point of that party was or why we didn’t do something more constructive with our time and money that day. But for those of us there, we know the real reason. Imagine living a daily existence where you are not wanted or acknowledged, being relegated to work in a garbage dump for your survival. Imagine hearing that someone believes in you, wants to help you, and wants to celebrate you. And if they are willing to celebrate your life and your family, perhaps you can also continue to push forward and hope for something better for the future. Knowing that someone cares about what you are going through can sometimes be what enables you to continue. Compassion and love are never lost on those who need it most.This summer, Hero Holiday will be returning to work with the community that works at this garbage dump. We are working with them to help build a better future for their families and we are choosing to stand beside them where they are at today. This is possible because of people like you. Join us!