Participant Blog: Coming Home

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Laura MarshallI attended Hero Holiday Week 1 this year in Sosua, Dominican Republic. I have been home for just about a month now. People have been asking me how my trip was and I reply, “Oh it was awesome!” “It was great!” “Lifechanging, for sure, thanks.” But I could never open up about it and really tell them about it. Until now, I’ve almost tried to push it all aside and pretend I didn’t see the things that I saw because it was too hard to bring it up again and go through it all again. It’s just so hard to describe…I mean, just to put words to the thousands of memories that flood my mind every single day.

Most of us here have never experienced the hunger and illness that needlessly kills 30,000 children a day. I don’t even know how to describe digging through the dump just to find scraps of food for someone to eat…food that was on your plate yesterday that you threw out. It’s not even the poverty that you see in the movies because this time it’s real, and instead of a cameraman with a clipboard in his hand, there’s a 4-year-old little boy with no shoes on, wearing shreds for clothes, looking up at you and depending on you.

It’s so frustrating that you can’t even understand what they’re saying to you when they’re tugging on your shirt and looking up at you with those big brown eyes! I hate that I couldn’t really talk to them and communicate and let them know how much they were loved by total strangers. When you hold that child in your arms and she starts smiling at you and poking your cheeks and babbling on to you, it’s true. You are the person she’s been looking for. You, the person who didn’t think you could do much to help. And just by taking those few steps and believing in yourself, here you are, in a third world country, with the help of a hundred others, building a school for the community, visiting the orphanage for children who will know no more then the four walls they are enclosed in, and feeding that 3-month-old baby who’s parents have left them to die in a ditch. You, you did all this.

I will admit it was really hard coming home though. It was hard walking in my room and seeing everything that I have and all that I take for granted. Remembering of complaining of tiny, now insignificant things. It was hard looking at my kitchen at all the food I had. I didn’t eat for the first two days I was home and I hated everyone who went out to supper who didn’t think twice about throwing out what they couldn’t eat. Didn’t they know that I had held children in my arms who would never see more then a few apple cores and moldy pieces of bread in their lifetime? Didn’t they know that those 8 or 9 fries they threw out would be a dream come true for the starving? I was so angry at everyone for complaining about their clothes or their hair or when the internet wasn’t working.

Days go by and I guess it gets a little bit easier to deal with, but I still get moments where something strikes me and I can’t help but feel guilty about the culture I was brought up in. You just have to know that it’s not your fault that you have a roof over your head and food on the table. You can live in Canadian culture and still help out in many ways through awareness posters and discussions, and you will find someone who shares the same passion to help as you. From now on my motto is not “I’m only one person, what good can one person do?” It’s, “I am one person plus the million of other people that want to help. Together we can do this.”

And you can. You really, really can.

~Laura Marshall

*All participants are given the opportunity to blog so many views are represented. These views do not neccesarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) Leadership Development. If you are a Hero Holiday participant that would like to share your experience please email your story (and picture, if possible) to

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: August 20th, 2007