Participant Blog:My Girl

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Nikki and AnnaHave you ever had one person who impacted your life in such a way that just thinking of them brings tears to your eyes? Have you ever missed someone so much that looking at a picture makes your heart break? I have, and she is a six-year old girl named Anna*.
Anna and I met during my 10-day trip to the Dominican Republic with an organization called LiveDifferent. We were building a school in her neighbourhood and every day as we were working the kids would come by to see us. Most of them, some as young as only three, would put on work gloves and help to build their school. Anna was one of those kids; she was my little helper. Every morning when we arrived at Arroyo Seco, she would be standing waiting for the truck, and her face would break into a big smile when she saw me coming down the road. She and her friends would follow the truck down to the school and jump all over us, exchanging hugs and smiles. Anna grabbed my attention immediately. As the other kids would run and jump all over us and beg to be picked up and played with, she would stand off to the side a bit and take everything in. She was quiet and wore a look on her face that at first I took for sadness, but I soon learned that she wasn’t a sad girl and was very blessed with the most generous and caring family I have ever met.

After a few minutes, she and I had already formed a bond that I will never forget. I saw a lot of sad things when I was in the Dominican; I saw kids with swollen bellies and hair turned red from lack of nutrition. I saw families who had to work in a garbage dump for less than a dollar a day. I saw parents who would do anything to give their kids a proper education and successful life. From these people, I learned a lot about life and they will be forever in my memory, however, it is Anna whose picture is framed in my bedroom, and Anna who I think about each and every day.

When I was in the Dominican, my life was changed and I learned so much about endless topics that I could write for pages about. Anna taught me about happiness. Looking back on my life, my happiest moments are spent at Arroyo Seco with Anna’ hand in mine.
When it came time to leave and return to Canada, I carried her to the truck to say our goodbyes. She rested her head on my shoulder, leaving a puddle of tears on my sleeve, and that simple gesture brought me to tears, and I cried like I haven’t cried in a long time. Her mother, one of the kindest women I have ever met, brought a translator over as she pulled Anna, still crying, from my arms and told him to tell me that “This little girl is mine, but now she is both of ours.”

In the next year before I go back to the DR, her memories will probably fade of that week as she goes to school, turns seven years old, and moves ahead with her life, but my memories of her will never fade. She is, without a doubt, the one person who has touched me the most in my life, and the person who taught me what it is to feel truly happy.

~Nikki Cochrane

*Name has been changed to protection identity.

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

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 16th, 2007