Our team had an experience today that we were not expecting. We went to the local garbage dump to ‘live in the shoes’ of the Haitian refugees. Nettie, our Hero Holiday leader, discussed what we would be expecting to see earlier that morning, but once we arrived at the garbage dump, I was in complete shock. It not only affected me physically, but emotionally as well. I was overwhelmed by the situation I witnessed upon entering the garbage dump. There were piles of garbage everywhere that Haitian refugees would go through everyday just to find recyclable materials that they would collect and sell for an extremely small amount of money. It made me stop and think about how much I waste things and throw things away, and the fact that they could be going through all of it.
I realized that in our Western Culture we take many things for granted. It upset me the most knowing that they are so determined to work so hard, even when faced with conditions such as rain and unsanitary environments. Some of the women at the garbage dump inspired me because they provided for large families with many children. Many of them were single moms who sacrificed their time to support their families as best as they could.
Back in Canada, we are blessed with the opportunity to become whatever we want to be, and to hold jobs such as doctors, lawyers, or teachers. However, many of the people at the garbage dump are stateless and don’t even have a chance to receive a proper education and therefore their job opportunities are limited.
Poverty gave me a huge eye opener today and made me really think about how I view life back in Canada. We are so fortunate to live in a country that provides free healthcare, good education, and many opportunities to a good life. Going back home, I will have a different outlook on life and will want to create change wherever I can. I will never forget the experience I had today.