Children Stealing Hearts…

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These past two and a half weeks have been the most emotionally and physically draining weeks of my life. However this experience has also been the most eye opening and rewarding weeks of my life.  While we have been in the Dominican Republic we have been given the privilege to play with, give countless piggy back rides to and work alongside some amazing children. At the job-sites, children love to help us with whatever we are working on. It doesn’t matter whether it is shoveling Meckla (Spanish for concrete), wheel burrowing countless loads of gravel and helping us dig trenches. They have often put us to shame by working so hard at such a young age. These children often work barefoot, without work gloves and continue to smile the whole time they are helping us. When we stop for lunch they patiently await our return. When we return we are greeted with smiling faces. They continue to work alongside us after lunch often with empty bellies.  Throughout these past couple weeks, these children have quickly become our amigos. I have met countless children who have found the true meaning of happiness at such a young age. I however am still struggling to find this at the age of nineteen.  One child that I have met who has found this happiness is a nine year old boy named Antonio. I was introduced to Antonio about a week ago when I saw him cleaning my friend Miranda`s shoes and we quickly became friends. Many children living in the Dominican Republic have to work to help provide for their families. Antonio is one of many children that have to help their families by shining shoes. He makes between 100 and 500 Pecos a day. This is not much money considering he comes from a family of nine. He is the only child in his family that is required to work because he is the second oldest. Antonio starts his work day around 7am and finishes at around 5pm. I can always count on being greeted everyday by Antonio’s smiling face when we unload the trucks after a day at the worksite. I cannot help but feel angry that I have the opportunity to go up to my room and have a shower while he sits outside the resort trying to find people to shine shoes. Yesterday Antonio saw Miranda`s IPod and he was amazed by it. He asked one of our translators, Smith, if we have a lot of IPods in Canada. We told him that we do have a lot of IPods in Canada. I did not have the heart to tell him that we come from a society that thrives on materialist wealth so much so that we have to continue to purchase the newest IPods when they come out (even though the IPods we have now work perfectly fine). The trip is quickly coming to an end and I cannot help but wonder what is going to happen to Antonio. I wonder if he will continue to shine shoes for a living or will he become a construction foremen like he aspires to be. We read so many statistics about poverty and some of those statistics have now become personal for me. Whenever I read or hear any statistics about children now, I picture all the children that I have played with, laughed with and spent time with. I will never forget them or the memories we have shared.~ Emily, a DR summer intern

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 26th, 2010