My Friend, Shagi

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It is coming up to 21 days that i have been in the Dominican Republic this summer and not a day has gone by where this trip has not impacted my life in some way, shape or form. For all who are reading this note, i will take this time to encourage you all to take a Hero Holiday trip (there is some cheap advertising eh?)P7215437 Today was a day unto itself. Garbage dump days are always a “choose your own adventure” type of day as Christal would say. Arriving at the gates of the dump, we were joined by our good friend who mans the gates everyday. He rode with us in our truck until about half way there when he told us to stop and explained that we could not go any further. Hero Holiday has been bringing groups each day to the garbage dump to work alongside the workers there and help them collect recyclable bottles. Since our time at the garbage dump has been a recurring and constant event, the town has noticed what we are doing and have decided we are not allowed to enter the site because we are helping the Haitians. I don’t think I can explain the hatred and racism that exists here towards the Haitians. It is something we cannot comprehend.While Christal, Gate-man and translators tried compromising and explaining what we were doing in the dump, my good friend Shagi came walking over the hill to meet us. Shagi is 17 yrs old and he works at the dump a few days a week. Working in the dump is a place that is spat upon. The people that work there are mostly Haitian. All of them have no papers to speak of. They are stateless, and do not exist to the world. Shagi, my friend Shagi, does not exist to the world.While we were chatting with him, he was telling us what he does at the dump (I was curious because I have yet to see him “work” at the dump lol). He told us he does not pick through the garbage but instead sorts through the bottles and puts them into piles of glass and plastic. This is considered a high-end job. Shagi does not have another job and has to support his grandparents as well as pay for his own food and living. Out of curiosity, we asked him how much money he makes at this job he is so proud of occupying. His answer, is the reason I cannot sleep right now.P7215513My friend, Shagi, makes 3 dollars every 2 weeks.The price of living is not that different from how much things cost back home. This is to say, my friend has to somehow survive off of and look after his two grandparents on $1.50 a week. That is my daily coffee, stretched out into a whole week of food, rent, medicine, water, transportation, etc. This is his life.P7215542 As I sit awake in my room tonight, I will think of how quickly I spend $1.50. I challenge you to do the same. I challenge you to see how long it takes for $1.50 to slip past your hands. I will not spend a day without thinking about this story. I will do this for Shagi; the guy who makes me laugh, who gives me hugs, and teaches me Spanish. I will do this for all of the stateless people in the world. I will do this because I have a friend, a good friend, who lives off of less than a quarter a day.Caity- Student Leader

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 24th, 2008