Trying to prepare yourself for something you have never experiences before is like diving from a 20ft cliff without knowing how shallow or deep the water is.
Before my arrival in Dominican Republic I had known my heart was going to be broken. I had known this experience was going to expose a small dose of reality for us all. If only for a short period of time, we would get a glimpse of how these amazing people are able to survive in great levels of poverty. What I didn’t know, was that my world was about to be rocked and overflowed with love, joy and beauty by this incredible community.
I was given the amazing opportunity of coming to Sosua, DR with Boston Pizza-Hero Holiday, who for the past 4 years has partnered with LiveDifferent. During our time, our team has been towards building 3 beautiful homes for 3 incredible families in Nuevo Renacer (New Birth), previously known as Aguas Negras (Black Waters). Upon our first arrival to the village this sea of children, smiling, screaming with excitement and climbing all over us, immediately consumed us. We then proceeded through the village, meeting some previous families and seeing their houses that past teams had built.
I immediately felt a great deal of sorrow, heartache, and pity. How were we born into such a privileged life? One that most of us (including myself) take for granted everyday. I saw everything they didn’t have; food, shelter, security, stability, dry floors when it rained, fresh clean running water…the list was endless. However, over time, I realized that they would be giving me the greatest gift I think I’ve ever experienced.
Despite everything they lacked in their lives, they carry the incredible treasure of knowing what life is really about. Children are free to be children. They spend the whole day outside playing, running, screaming. I was enthralled with the sense of community, love and commitment these people carry. To say “it takes a village to raise a child” is nothing short of what they do, as every adult looks out for each child regardless if it’s their or not. These people are strong, determined, and their perseverance is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Their love, their beauty is written all over their faces. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman singing a Spanish song while hanging up her laundry, or the ability to dance in the streets. Their heart, their love for one another and to serve each other with no expectations of anything in return is beautiful.
A little boy, William, had captured my heart one of the days, when he took my hands and proceeded to wash all the dirt and cement off of them. I had no idea something so simple – an innocent act of kindness – could bring me to tears. These people know how to love. That is what life is about, and that is what I will be taking away. We are not the heroes, they are!
– Lauren, LiveDifferent Volunteer, Boston Pizza Trip, 2014