I’m collecting hugs

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Wow; what an absolutely amazing day. The excitement was high and eyes did not stay dry! Yes, the trip has officially begun. Today, 50 WestJetters made the trip to Nuevo Renancer to meet our eight families who we have the privilege to build five homes for. One of these homes is a duplex and the other a triplex. 
We arrived to the site with the warmest welcome I have ever received in my life. As our trucks pulled up, there were around 60 people from the community awaiting our arrival. They started cheering and clapping. As we got off the bus, the women in the community hugged every one of us. And I mean a real true genuine hug – and the tears began. 
First, we then divided into five groups with ten participants in each. My group (group three) went to the area where we will be building our house. The new owner, Dorka was in tears the whole time talking to us. She is a 62 year old woman who has been living in extreme poverty. Every time it rains her house leaks. There is no lock on the front door, planks of wood just randomly nailed onto the house for protection and holes everywhere. I could go on with the details but I am proud to say this is now the past and in one week, Dorka will be unlocking the door to her newly built home. I just can’t wait. Her son and daughter who live with her were also so excited.
We then took a tour of the rest of the community. There are still many homes that need to be replaced. But in time, all these houses will be replaced. I was on the first WestJet Holiday Hero in April 2012 and I knew without a doubt, this whole community would have a complete facelift within the next few years because of WestJet and Live Different. I could not believe the transformation in just two and a half years. Seeing the work we have done in this community today gave me nothing but hope for these incredible families who deserve more in life that what they have.
I was so fortunate to have reunited with the family I built for back in spring 2012. Without any exaggeration, I walked around a corner and the mom of the family looked at me, jumped up off the step she was sitting on and ran to me to hug me. She invited me into her home right away so she could show off how her family had decorated it. I could not believe she remembered me after two and a half years as there were so many of us at the time. I realized in that moment that I could guarantee that these families would remember every solitary WestJetter that helped them build their dream homes. The families are just so grateful for everything we have done. 
I know the families in the community look at us as the ones who helped them changed their lives and give them so much. However, I feel it is totally opposite. This whole experience will change all of our lives forever as these families and the community give US so much in return. This is the perfect example of how two different worlds come together to make change!
Jenanne, CSA, LiveDifferent Hero Holiday 2014

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 25th, 2014