Often times I think back to 2012 when I did my first Live Different Build. It was the first time I was exposed to issues that were bigger than not having the newest iPhone or that all the salt and vinegar chips were gone. And at that time, as a 15 year old girl, I couldn’t comprehend what I saw. I couldn’t even begin to understand the struggles people in developing countries go through. Fast forward to today, four years later, and I have finally gotten to Dominican Republic and Haiti having been to Mexico multiple times. This trip has been very different for me. I was once again completely blown away by the poverty and issues that human beings just like myself must struggle with every single day. I started to look at things differently and I asked myself:
Do I believe that every human should have access to clean drinking water?
Do I believe that no child should go to bed hungry?
Do I believe that every person should have the right to an education?
Do I think that a woman should be able to close her door at night and know that she and her family will be safe?
These are the things that we are working to change because it’s 2015 and yet SO many of these rights are not a reality for people.
I think about the multiple times that I have just simply shaken my head because I didn’t have any words to describe what I saw. Children at the age of three carrying full buckets of water up steep and rocky slopes (not once did they laugh at me while I struggled with my half bucket, tripping and falling all over the place). The struggles of sick and malnourished children who do not have access to medical care. I have come to realize that no matter how many times I see people in these situations or witness the immense suffering some must go through, I will never be able to fully understand.
As I walked through the community, I was inspired by just how happy people there are. They will be playing soccer, barefoot, with nothing more then an empty plastic bottle for a ball, yet they are having the time of their lives. True happiness doesn’t come in the packaging of a new iPhone 6. It doesn’t come from a high numbered paycheck or from the amount of friends you have on Facebook. Happiness comes from the act of kindness. When we give our time and effort to help others, the response is like nothing you could imagine. It is having the opportunity to be able to contribute my time to build not only a home for a very deserving family but also create a long lasting relationship with them.
My time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti has taught me the importance of education and it has allowed me to realize that I should not take clean water for granted. Someone said to me on the trip that poverty is the lack of opportunity and choices. This has stuck with me because in today’s world we are overwhelmed with the amount of choices we have. However, an important choice we must make is whether or not we are going to turn our heads on the world when they are in need or to step up and do something to take action.
Gina, Live Different Volunteer, Alumni Build Trip 2015