Live Different is a Canadian-based registered charity that WestJet has partnered with over the last few years. In addition to hosting motivational assemblies to encourage students across Canada to make choices that lead to purpose, hope and perspective, Live Different also operates the Hero Holiday program.
 
Turning their inspirational messages into action, Live Different’s Hero Holiday program provides year-round global humanitarian opportunities which result in much-needed assistance and support for those living in extreme poverty in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Thailand. Hero Holiday activities include building homes or schools, providing food, operating mobile medical clinics and working with children in need.
 
The Live Different Hero Holiday team is WestJet’s on-the-ground charitable partner in Puerto Plata for our first-ever international community investment initiative. They provide project management, transportation and act as our onsite community liaison. Simply put, we would not be able to do this without the Live Different team’s careful guidance and years of experience with this type of work.
 
In the fall of 2011 WestJet committed to work with Live Different to help change the lives of five families in the Aguas Negra community of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, by building each of them a safe, new home. The houses we are building are very simple one-room structures made with concrete blocks, tin roofs, and love.
 
In preparation for the arrival of our team of 50 WestJetters , on Wednesday, April 11, the five families WestJet is building new homes for tore down their old houses. They were not alone is this activity as extended family and surrounding neighbours came out to lend a hand. There was no sadness or regret felt as their shacks made up of every type of material imaginable were dismantled, only joy and expectation for a better future.
 
According to Nettie Brown, Programs Administrator for Live Different, the families and community members worked so hard clearing the way for the new homes.
 
“It was sad to see the old rotted wood and materials pass by knowing that is what these families have been living in and sleeping next to for years. A mattress that was barely salvageable passed by and it reeked of mold. But all these trials will be things of the past come April 18th when we hand over the keys to their brand new homes!” says Nettie.
 
“Each family is currently staying with family or friends living within Aguas Negra. All their belongings are being stored at different homes throughout the community, too. There was an excitement buzzing through the air – part of it was for the Easter celebrations this weekend (Semana Santa), but also to meet all the Canadians coming to build their brand new houses.”
 
These families and the community can be assured. We look forward to meeting them as well and working very hard to build them a better future.
 
by Jenifer van Meenen
 
 
 
 
*The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Live Different.

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