Day three: awareness tour

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It all started at 9 a.m. on a hot and sticky Tuesday morning. More than 50 of us jumped into 4 military-esque vehicles to begin the tour of our surrounding areas. The morning for half of us began at a schoolhouse and church built by the dream of a man who ran on love and a prayer. He literally began building
without the proper funds in the hope and a prayer that in starting this project, the rest would work itself out, which was inspiring to say the least.
After playing some basketball and skipping with some of the children we were off again to a small community called La Union, a place where we will spend more time tomorrow watching movies and getting to know the locals. After a quick lunch, we were back on the road again and en route to Agua Negra; the site where 50 of us would build 5 new houses for some incredible families.
Walking through Auga Negra is an experience that you will never forget. Rotten and decrepit wooden homes rest upon each other in a struggle to stay erect; chickens and dogs run across your path; garbage greets you in every direction you turn your head. The water that surrounds the community is black and swells up with the weather to eat away the land that nearby homes reside on.
You would think (as I learned my team also did in our nightly debriefing session) that this would dampen the mood of the day, and it would if it wasn’t for one thing: the beautiful people of Agua Negra.
Upon arriving in the place we will spend the next several days you are greeted by strangers who greet you as if you are long lost friends. Children grab your hand and walk with you. The locals come out to say hello. You would think in a place as seemingly deplorable as this that there would be envy amongst the
neighbors that 5 families would be receiving a new home and they would be left out. Interestingly enough though, there is nothing but love and admiration for these folks and a feeling of hope that their turn will come as well.
Today we were all introduced to our families who could be described as this: Families of hope. Families of love and families that can teach us the true meaning of what matters most in life.
Our group has been assigned house number 5. As we all learned today house number 5 is a family of six that greets us with mile-wide smiles and an excitement that is contagious. They share with us their dreams of sending their children to school so they can someday become professionals and (for the
mother and father) to get married after 15 years of being together.
In a world where we complain if we don’t have the newest, the greatest, the biggest and the best, these two simple wishes are enough to bring my team to their knees. The absolute LOVE and JOY this family has is a reminder to us all how out of touch we can all become to what matters most.
In our nightly debrief session (a great part of this program that allows people to share what went on during the day), there was an unexpected moment with my team when we came together to discuss what we thought of the day. Personally, I had started the day believing (and later learned this seemed to
be the consensus) that it would be really tough and somber day and would act asa shock to the system and a rude awakening that would set the tone for the rest of our mission here. And it did set the tone.
But in unexpected ways.
During the debrief session, the unanimous tone of the evening was of gratitude, excitement and hope. A far cry from the preconceived emotions we expected to have.
We cannot wait to begin this amazing journey with our family.
By Sara Foster
*The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 12th, 2012