A Lesson to Live By
As I write this, the date is Sunday, July 22. It feels like only a few hours ago that we landed in the DR and all of a sudden we have been here five days. Five days might not seem like a long time, but here, we’ve experienced so much that it feels impossible to have been such a short time.
Although we’ve already seen and done so much, one particular thing has repeatedly entered my mind and is already changing the way I think about things; the locals are here are unbelievably positive about every situation and scenario that crosses their path. During our awareness tour on the first full day here, we stopped in a small community called La Union. Instantly after getting off the bus, kids came running from everywhere, excited to meet and play with us. They all have so little in terms of a house, toys, clothing, or utilities, but that didn’t stop them one bit. Every single person we passed waved to us and greeted us with a cheerful “Hola!”. They were simply happy to see us and that struck me as incredible. They didn’t let their many worries, their harsh and unfair living conditions, or their daily struggles get in the way of simple happiness, and that is something I will continue to remind myself about.
Another example of their inspirational attitude hit me like a pound of bricks on the day we went and worked in the garbage dump. The young boy that I worked with, Ryan, was only 10 years old, and had been working there for quite a while to help support his family back in Haiti while he lives here in the DR with friends. As we started to walk and search through what seemed to be never ending garbage, it became readily apparent how hard Ryan works. When we tried to get to know him by asking basic questions through the help of a translator, Ryan answered a few and then calmly said “no more,” as we were wasting valuable working time. In another instance, I was clearing away limbs of trees in hopes of finding recyclable materials underneath, when a branch caught Ryan’s pants, knocking him off balance and sending him sprawling into a pile of rotten food. I quickly turned around worried that I’d find him hurt or upset, yet I was relieved to see him laughing away about what had happened, and I couldn’t help but to join in and laugh with him.
Ryan taught me something that day that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. He taught me that no matter how the large the obstacles to overcome are, you simply have to find a way be content and push through it. I find so much inspiration in that, because if a ten year old boy can do it on a daily basis, then we most certainly can too! No child should have to work as hard as Ryan does, or grow up in a childhood like his, however he truly inspired me and I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to have had that experience. We only have two more work days here in the DR, and I can’t wait to take in every moment of them, as unfortunately it will all be over in the blink of an eye. I wish everyone the best and I promise that we have lots to share when we all return home!
Kardy – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic 2012