Light Along the Road

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Light is made up of both waves and particles and its incomprehensible speed is what the basic measurement of distance is based on. It’s all around us and it is way more than what it seems. When we look at the world, science has proven that it’s not actually the objects that we are seeing – it is the light that has left those objects and reached our eyes. The truth is that light is the only real thing that we can see in the world, and that is kind of mind-bending when you first consider it. But when I look at the world around me, perhaps the most incredible property about light is something I discovered when I first encountered the beauty of a flashlight in a dark place: light is never overcome by darkness. Never.light-along-the-road-3.jpgAt first glance, Aguas Negra can seem like a carbon copy of hundreds of thousands of communities around the world. There is the endless clamor of human life in close, unhealthy proximity: children calling out, babies crying, shouts of laughter combined with outbreaks of rage, and TV’s and stereos blaring. There is very little privacy anywhere, and the unceasing noise and chatter is combined with the smell of tepid water, human waste, mildew and garbage that threatens to completely overrun the community at times. And then there is the black water, the Aguas Negra that the community is plagued by when it rains or the river floods. It is there because, essentially, the community of about 7,500 people are living on top of an old landfill – and it’s a ghost they can’t ever get away from.But for me, that’s where the similarities end between Aguas Negra and many places around the world like it. Because in Aguas Negra, there is light along the road – literally. The Light Along the Road is a Dominican based foundation that is run by the people of Aguas Negra with the help of organizations such as ours and many others around the world. It is a women’s cooperative, an adult education centre, an elementary school, a community outreach centre, a medical resource centre and even a church. It is the product of many people seeing the bigger picture that goes beyond the limitations of their poverty right now. At the head of it, steering the vision, is a woman named Sandra. A single mother who has lived in Aguas Negra for a long time with her four kids, Sandra believes in her community and in the potential of each person she encounters within. Sandra knows almost each person in that community by name, and she works to continually inspire them to live past where they are right now in their lives and dream and work towards what they believe can happen.There are a lot of models for development around the world that are working and that can be touted as being highly successful in accomplishing their measurable goals. They are doing amazing, ground-breaking strategies to help conquer poverty’s pain and death grip. But none of those strategies ever reached Aguas Negra. They were a community getting sicker and sicker, whose children were going without an education because they couldn’t afford the $15-$20 needed for school uniforms and books, and who had nothing to focus on together but daily survival. All they needed to start to find a way out was someone like Sandra, someone who was one of them. People like Sandra are lights, and they will always shine brighter when they are surrounded by others like them.Light Along the RoadLiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s Hero Holiday groups have done many projects with Light Along the Road. Many Canadian teenagers and adults have seen the power of change for themselves as they worked among the people that call Aguas Negra ‘home’. We have helped to build homes and structures that are giving hope where it is needed – and in the process, we are changed.In a perfect world, there would be no poverty, sickness or exploitation, and in a perfect world no one would need us to believe that we can make a difference for those unable to do it for themselves. But we live in a very imperfect world, and in this world, in our lifetimes, we can shape the future by our actions today.The way out is not easy, to be honest, many may not make it. Disease, sickness, violence, hunger and pure poverty will take many of their lives and destroy their futures. But it won’t get them all. It can’t when there is light along the road because that light shines in the darkness – it is never the other way around.Light Along the RoadThis Christmas, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is returning to Aguas Negra in Dominican Republic, and we will be building homes for families who need it most – and we will have the best Christmas of our lives! You can join us! Check out for more information.Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. ~ Dalai Lama

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 25th, 2010