Interning in the Dominican Republic

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I have been with Hero Holiday in the Dominican Republic since the beginning of July. So far, I have had an awesome experience and am really proud of all the work that is being accomplished by all participants. I came on a Hero Holiday last year and thought that I was therefore prepared for everything, I wasn’t worried that I would become emotional or that I would have a hard time dealing with my surroundings. The more that I have been experiencing this week, the more I really connect with the people and am reminded of how good I have it back in Canada. I do not use up a lot of my time fulfilling my needs, but most of my time is taken up by fulfilling my wants, this is the opposite with most of the people that I have met so far.

 One particular person who has remained in my memory is Jeffery, he lives in a community where most of the people are forced to collect plastic bottles from a dump in order to earn an income, making about a dollar a day. Jeffery is only fourteen years old and is faced with having to work in a garbage dump in order to survive. Jeffery’s story is typical of many Haitians living in Dominican communities after the earthquake. He was in his home when the earthquake hit, he said that he only broke his arm because a brick fell on it as he was trying to escape but that his father passed away after being hit in the head by rubble. Jeffery and his mother were able to leave Haiti eight days after the earthquake but had to leave five other siblings behind. Now they live in a small community and walk very far each day in order to get to the garbage dump, if they have enough money saved up they are able to call their family in Haiti, but that is not very often. I worked alongside Jeffery for about an hour and had a hard time comprehending what it would be like for him to do that job six days a week and about six to seven hours a day, with very little food in his tummy.

It doesn’t seem fair that I am fortunate enough to live in Canada and that a brilliant boy like Jeffery will never be able to go to school because of his unfortunate circumstances. After meeting Jeffery I feel as though it is my responsibility to do whatever I can to make the world a better place for those who are stuck in the cycle of poverty. I gave Jeffery, a pair of my gloves and my shoes (which fit him) because it was all that I could do and felt that I needed to do at the moment. As the truck drove away from the dump and everyone was waving to us, I caught Jeffery’s eye and he was smiling at me, with such a beautiful smile. Seeing that smile gave me hope that we as a society and as individuals can make a huge impact on people in the smallest ways and that the world can change for the better.

-Brianna, DR Intern

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 24th, 2010