The nights are long but the dreams are longer

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Our day began with what I can honestly say was felt by all – anxiety and nervousness. Today was the garbage dump day, or better described as, “In their shoes.”

Our team is a mix of first time visitors and others on their second or even third trip to the Dominican. The briefing Nettie provided for us this morning was a reminder for some, while a blank canvas to others. “The garbage dump day is by far the most impacting day you will experience.” As you looked around the room, the expressions on our faces, the bowed heads, the tears streaming down cheeks….you couldn’t tell which ones of us were new and which ones were returning.

As our truck approached the dump you could hear a pin drop. Words were not spoken, just the odd glance or nod of “we will get through this together.”

The purpose of this day is to try and help the people of La Union, mostly Haitian refugees who work at the dump, collecting plastic bags and bottles so they can earn a few dollars. With our help for the day, they can possibly earn a few more dollars towards their dream of a better life. We were each assigned to either a man, a woman, or a child, given a clear plastic bag, and were on our way.

Being my second time to the dump, I found myself not so focused on the site of garbage and awful smells, but on the people. I was constantly distracted in hopes of coming across those I met on my last trip. Looking around over heaps of endless waste, I found my distraction was actually a dedicated team of locals and gringo’s, engaging in conversation, smiling and digging through oceans of garbage in hopes of filling at least one large bag of plastic.

Today LiveDifferent provided gift bags for the people who regularly work in the garbage dump. Those people got a ticket and when called came to collect a bag that included rice, oil, chicken stock, toothbrushes and soap. The look on their faces as they collected these things for their families was that of hope and happiness.

It was time to leave and just as my first experience, we were all slow to board the truck. In our hearts we didn’t want to leave as there was still so much we could do. The ride back to our hotel was much like how we approached, silent.

During our debriefing it was prevalent; it didn’t matter how many times you’ve been to the dump, the feeling of anger, hopelessness, frustration, sadness, and wanting to do more doesn’t go away or get any easier. In fact, it empowers you to fight harder and speak louder for change!

We then had some free time to unwind, reflect on our morning and prepare for minds for a celebration of unity.

Three Haitian couples had a dream to one day be married. They didn’t care about where they’d marry or what they would wear, for them the meaning of marriage was sacred, a commitment of their life-long love…their dream as one. This evening, on the grounds of our hotel three couples dreams came true! We had the honour of not only witnessing their wedding ceremony, but we all pitched in to ensure their union was complete with new wedding rings and a wedding gift. The ceremony lead by Frantzo was heartfelt by all; once again there was silence and a few tears but this time heads were high.

A day of remarkable highs and lows was felt by all, no matter who you were or where you came from. As Cole shared with us from one member in the community of Nuevo Renacer, ” the nights are long but the dreams are longer.” We are all free to dream, but with a little help, kindness, and inspiration we can all make each others dreams come true.


Terese ~ Hero Holiday volunteer 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 9th, 2013