Poverty is Real

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Hello my name is Brandi. I’m 17 years old and visiting Mexico from the small town of Edam, Saskatchewan. I came to Mexico thinking I would simply meet new people, observe another culture, and lend a helping hand. There couldn’t be a bigger understatement. When packing for Mexico I was anxious for the experiences I would be encountering. Mexico was a place I had gone for nice warm trips with my family. I had been to resorts, the beach, and toured vendors. I remember visiting this country in the past and hearing about what was going on outside of the tourism area and not understanding. Also, as my Mom was preparing me for this trip it was a preparation for a dangerous place where I wasn’t to trust anyone. That was a huge mistake. I have never felt so safe in my entire life. The more that I see this country, the more understand about the Mexican culture and poverty in general, the more I don’t understand about humanity.

Earlier in the fall we were sent profiles on the families that we would be building for. There were some heart wrenching living conditions that were tough to comprehend. Of course it was easy to continue to work and live in my own little world, retire to my heated house, and crawl into my own comfortable bed every night. On Monday we went to meet these strangers that we had read about months prior.  These people were no longer blank faces on a computers screen, they were now physically in front of us. Their story was no longer words in an email but something we couldn’t get away from. Poverty is real, and these people live completely different lives from us all simply because of the birth lottery.

It didn’t take long for these people to become our friends. Although we didn’t share the same language, we could communicate in different ways: hand gestures, broken Spanish, and smiles. The children stole our hearts in a fundamental way, showing us just how much love one can have in the direst of circumstances. And the fun they have! Without helmets or protection of any kind, four kids raced down a steep hill riding Tonka trucks and tricked out milk carts as we cheered them on! Everything was a game to these children; we had kids lining up for a chance to hammer a nail or paint the walls of the house, excited to simply be part of the build. Their happy grins and loving smiles were some of the best things that I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience.

Not everything is fun and games, however. On our second build day, we were struck by a sudden rainstorm, an experience very different from the Canadian weather that we are used to. These storms can devastate the communities in which we work, as many houses are built from little more than cardboard and plastic and provide minimal protection from the elements. Though we had been informed that the rain was coming, it was still a challenge to put down our tools and retreat to our bus, while so many others shivered outside. It was a relief to finally put the roof up on the house, so that our family (and their neighbours and friends) would no longer be exposed to Mexico’s inclement winter weather.

My time in Mexico this Christmas and New Year’s was among the best experiences in my life; the people that I’ve grown to know and love will be with me forever. I can’t fully express how amazing this trip is in this blog; to understand the joy in the smile of a child in poverty, you must see it for yourself.


Brandi – LiveDifferent Volunteer, Mexico, Christmas 2012

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 3rd, 2013