I remember first hearing about a ‘Week in the Life’ when I went on my very first Hero Holiday in 2010. Never did I imagine that in a few short years, I’d actually be doing it myself.
This past week, my fellow LDA’s and I worked jobs that the locals do here in Mexico, such as working in the fields, rock picking, clamming, and general labour. We had to budget with the money we made everyday in order to pay for food, water, rent, transportation and any other fees that came up. We also cooked our meals over a fire, washed our clothes by hand and had bucket showers in our makeshift shower throughout the week. Last but not least, we lived in a house that we built ourselves using cardboard, plastic, and whatever other garbage we were able to find on the side of the road, and at the dump. This week was meant to simulate a week in the life of a typical local family.
I had certain expectations going into the week due to what I’d been told by friends who had already experienced it, I knew that it would be tough, but that it was going to be an amazing and incredibly eye-opening experience, and one of the highlights of my LDA journey. I was nervous and excited for the week to begin. Despite all of the expectations that I had for the week, I really had no idea what I was getting into. It’s one thing to hear stories and to see pictures, and it’s another thing entirely to actually be living the experience.
Early one morning, we were awoken to the sound of rain coming down on the roof of our shack. It took a moment for the situation to sink in, as we were all still half asleep. We just lay there at first, and then, realizing that the rain was coming in, the chaos began. We all packed up our stuff as fast as we could and stored it all in our second baño. Water was starting to leak through the holes in our roof of cardboard and tarps, and our walls were starting to get soaked through as well. We quickly gathered up all of the cardboard that we had been using as our floor, and hid it away out of the rain so that it wouldn’t get drenched. Then, people began bailing water off of the roof with bowls so that our roof wouldn’t get weighed down by water and collapse. Other than that, there wasn’t much we could do but stand outside in the rain, cold and wet, until it stopped.
Before this experience, I’d thought about what it must be like to live in a leaky cardboard shack when it rained, and how difficult it must be, but to experience it was so much different. We had nowhere to go; outside or in our shack, we couldn’t stay dry. I’m very accustomed to the rain, but not having a place to go to warm up and stay dry was very foreign to me. This experience really made me think of the importance of having a solid roof over your head. Like I said every day on tour when talking about the homes that we build for families, having a roof over your head is a simple thing that many of us take for granted, but that is really so important. I truly experienced the full meaning of those words this past week, when I stood out in the rain thinking about all the families around us who were being affected by the weather like we were. Families who struggle with same things we did, except they don’t get to go back to the comforts of a warm house when the week’s over.
That rainy morning was just one of the many eye-opening moments for me over the course of our ‘Week in the Life’. While it wasn’t always an easy week, it was an amazing experience to learn what it’s like to live in poverty, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to do so. I gained so much insight and have so many memories to look back on and stories to share, and I’ll definitely never take the roof over my head for granted again.
Jordyn, LiveDifferent Academy Student, Spring 2014