Life is painting a picture

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On an ideal Saturday in Mexico, like today was, most people would probably want to be spending time on the beach getting tan, or even just lounging around. While these things sound pretty great, it’s not how we chose to spend our day. Instead, we spent three and a half hours in a dusty cemetery painting rocks white…doesn’t sound like a great time eh? But we couldn’t have been happier to spend that time making someone’s loved one’s grave as beautiful as we could manage with the small team of 8 ½ people (the half being little two year old Edwin) that we had assembled.

As part of our academy curriculum we are given the task to find a project. This project must be to help the community around us in some way. The guidelines weren’t very strict and we could do almost anything we thought would be a great for the community. My group, consisting of myself and Chey, chose to paint the rocks in the cemetery in an effort to make the dusty old place seem new again, and I think we did a great job!

If you go to your local cemetery at home you’re likely to see well maintained grass and many fancy head stones marking the spots where loved ones lay. In Mexico this is not the case. Not everyone can afford to pay for a head stone, or more commonly a miniature house to mark the grave of their loved ones, and as you walk through the rows of the cemetery you’ll quickly notice that some graves only have a large rock or two sticks tied together to mark a grave. Graves like this made me feel so sad, and were a sharp contrast to the full sized houses some people could afford that stood right next to them. It had never really occurred to me before how blessed I am to grow up in a place that has such fancy cemeteries, were everyone is taken care of equally and someone is paid to make sure all the graves look nice. Yes, not everyone’s stones are as fancy and maybe not everyone had a fancy funeral, but someone would never be placed in a cemetery like ours without something to mark their spot, something with their name and their birth date written so everyone who passed by would know who they were. Down here in Mexico however you see many crosses without a name and I can’t help but hurt inside for this person, who is now nameless to the world. I believe it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and that is why we chose to do this as our Community Project.

And as I sat painting the rocks it gave me a sense of joy to be able to give this family, who couldn’t afford anything to mark the grave, something beautiful, something that they would look at a think ‘someone must care’. I wish I could tell each of them that it’s true, that I do care, even if I didn’t actually know any of these people personally, most of which were children. I do care about the state in which they lay because I don’t think that the amount of money you make should determine how much beauty you’re allowed to surround yourself with. Everyone deserves to have nice things, even if all I can give them is a nicely painted rock. It’s the thought that counts, and I think most would appreciate being thought about on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.

So the tans could wait, and we could nap another day because today we would rather lend a hand to someone less fortunate. Even if our backs hurt and we are now all covered in paint, I don’t think any one of us regrets the time we spent painting those rocks today. Even if losing someone close to you is the hardest thing anyone will have to go through I hope those people will smile when they see the work we did today by the grave of the person they love. I hope it makes them see the beauty in the world around them, and I hope they know that the person they loved so dearly changed my life, and made me thankful for the loved ones I still have, thankful for the life I live, and most of all thankful to have had the opportunity to help them in this small way. Though this project started out simply as an idea we had to help the community, it turned into something incredibly life-changing for me. I would have never guessed all this change would come from painting rocks but I couldn’t be happier it did!

Brigitte ~ LiveDifferent Academy Student 2012

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 26th, 2012