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Today was our orientation and awareness tour.  Our team got to visit the school in Arroyo Secco, the worksite and to meet our new family.  

This year we are building for a lady named Lucia and her six children: Domingo who is 20, Jose Ramone who is 17, Rutester who is 12, Jose Betone who is 8, Antony who is 7 and Emily who is 3.  This family of seven has been renting a house which is probably about half the size of my bedroom.  We had the opportunity to visit their old house, as the new one is being built in a separate location.  Only three of us were able to fit inside it at a time and the walls hardly looked strong enough to hold up against a rough storm.  It is impossible to comprehend how this big family must have been living in this tiny little shack.  The conditions were devastating.
Despite not having much space, the family was so appreciative of all that they had.  It was amazing to see how each member of the family was helping in every way they could, and how well the community comes together to support each other.  Even-though I went on this trip last year I was blown away by the absolute love and support offered by each member of the community. There is an unexplainable sense of welcome that I felt as I returned here. 
Today was a extremely important day for me as we also had the opportunity to visit the two families Gonzaga had built homes for in previous years.  The first community we went to was Agua Negra.  This is where Gonzaga had built two years ago for Elias’ family.   What really caught my attention was when Elias said that he was especially grateful because the past couple years he has not had to worry nearly as much about his children falling ill because their living conditions are significantly better now.  Seeing the positive change in their lives really got me thinking about our family from last year and how different things are for them. 
After this we drove out to Arroyo Secco to finish the rest of our tour.  Before anything else we stopped at the home of Fredi and Ramona, where we built last year.  This was my favourite part of the day because as we were pulling up in front of the house, and the family saw who we were, there was an unmistakeable look of recognition which crossed all their faces.  It was so amazing to me that the family still remembered who I was.  It completely reinforced that we had truly made a difference in their lives.
Being in the communities today really made me realize how much I had truly forgotten since last year.  It opened my eyes for a second time and reminded me of the happiness radiating from everyone here and how contagious their smiles are.  Seeing how appreciative these people are for all that they have is truly inspiring.  They value so greatly the intangible things in life and have such a united community that you cannot help but want to be a part of the experience.  
Overall, today’s awareness tour really helped to prepare me for the days ahead.  Having met everyone i feel so comfortable and amazingly welcomed into this family. I am so excited to start working tomorrow! This is going to be an unforgettable trip!
– Brittany, LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Volunteer, Dominican Republic, 2013

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 26th, 2013