One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

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What we once saw as dirty garbage on the side of a Mexican highway we now see as a possible home. Dirty garbage bags and old mops, items we would have never dreamt to touch with our bare hands prior to last week, now held our roof in place. Cardboard boxes once filled with someone’s garbage, an item our mind previously didn’t even register sitting on the sides of the road, were now our floor; the only thing between us and the dirty ground beneath. It’s amazing how our instinct to survive will force you to do these things, use these items you would have never touched before. Shack week has opened our eyes to the world around us in a very new way. If you were to look at someone truly living in the circumstances simulated in shack week the first thing you would ask is ‘how do they live like that?’   

If you ask someone around this town, in Mexico, what the worst job is, most will tell you it’s working in the fields. After having worked in the fields myself I couldn’t agree more. The fields are both mind numbing and exhausting. You do the exact same motion for most of the day. Your back hurts, it’s hot, and it’s repetitive. By midday I just wanted to lie down in the middle of a row and sleep…but I would look up and see 100 people who do this every single day of their lives still working and would force myself to continue. I couldn’t comprehend how these people, some in their sixties, could work so hard while my 18 year old self struggled to even walk at the end of the second day. My experience in the fields made me so incredibly grateful that in Canada the worst job you could end up with is working at McDonalds.

The one job we did that was actually rather fun was clamming. Besides the fact that it was cold, dark, and smelled like fish I enjoyed myself. The main reason being that the clammers were all so positive, and joked around constantly. They kept our spirits up even though we were completely horrible at clamming. It was wonderful to see a group of people doing this horrible job at all hours of the day and night, who chose to see the positive in everything and would rather have a laugh than be upset about their situation. It was a nice contrast to the previous day when we had no one to talk to and even though we made absolutely no profit for our work that night I think we all had fun and learned a lesson in the value of positivity.

The other job we did was rock picking. Even though it was much less physically demanding than the fields, it was a million times more mind numbing. Spending 6-8 hours staring at rocks is definitely not my ideal day. I couldn’t imagine spending all my life alone staring at rocks. After some time, the rocks all looked the same and you struggled to even remember which ones you actually wanted. It was a very discouraging job, made even more discouraging by the view of the mansions on the hills. The idea that we had to go back to a shack while these people had houses big enough to hold 20 families made me sick. It was a very clear view of how our society works, poor people work hard in the heat for long hours while the rich sit up high and simply watch.

Shack week has made us all view the world around in a completely different manner. We once lived sheltered lives where poverty was only something you saw on TV, but now it’s something much more personal. We got a small glimpse of what it is like to not have enough food and not have a proper roof over our heads. We know what it feels like to work till you can no longer stand on your feet for a meager pay check, and now know the real value of food. We learned the value of staying positive and being a family even through times when we have nothing; it’s the most important thing we can do because our attitude towards a situation is the only thing we can control. We’ve also learned to watch what we throw away or call trash, because a pair of old shoes or a cardboard box that means nothing to us could mean the world to someone else. We’ve learned that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Brigitte – LiveDifferent Academy Student 2012

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 28th, 2012