Shack’n It Up!
Our LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) School of Leadership students in Mexico get to do the coolest things: learn about world issues through our Social Justice Curriculum, help with our Hero Holidays, and work within a Mexican community of the most kindest and gracious people you will ever meet. We designed a practical lesson for our students called, The Shack Experience. This year, our 2009 students are living for one week in a shack they made with their own two hands! They will work and live the way the some Mexicans in their area do. This experience’s goal is to open their eyes to the suffering and day to day life of 2/3s of our world. Here is a bit of how their first few days have been written by Brett Dyrland, their “Jefe” (Spanish for Boss):Life as a low income Mexican can be hard as the School of Leadership students are finding out. First, the students had to build a shack to live in. The rule of building the shack is that, it had to be made out of materials that were found on the street and free. They took the challenge, gathered supplies and started building. The two boys made a shack that was slightly larger than a dog house. (Have fun spooning boys!) The four girls on the other hand, wanted a larger, more spacious house. They soon realized that larger means more work. Especially after it big gust of wind blew it over. With a little assistance, they built a smaller shack with a structure that was more sturdy. Day 1 was great! It began with a 5am rise for work day. The team had to take their make believe kids to school and meet the bus at the highway (about 1km away) for 7am. Their first adventure was off to the river bed to get a load of sand to finish off some work around one of the Hero Holiday yards. From all the groaning, seemed to me like they thought loading a truck with sand was hard work. They off loaded the truck at the yard into wheel barrows, placed the sand in designated areas, and leveled it all out. First load was done by 10:00am. Half way through off loading the second load, I heard some excuses saying they were done, but as any boss would do, I told them to put more sand on the sand until the truck is empty. By then it was only 12:30pm and I had to find more work for them. Six people can get a lot of work done quickly! It was easy finding more work for them: detail the truck, clean the yard, wax the truck, wash the bus, and shampoo the dogs. Each of my workers received $100 pesos (which is approximately $8.50 CAD) for the day of hard work. But then they had to pay rent, pay for their “children” to go to school, transportation to work and back and food for the whole family. So needless to say, there was not much is left for food and water, but they made it work some how.The statement of the day is “Don’t ever say a Mexican is lazy.” Most of the students have never had labour jobs before and are not used to this type of work. Many of them found it hard, especially in this kind of heat. They all have a new respect for the term “A good days work”. I think a lot of them found it hard to stay motivated for only $8/day but that is what a lot of Mexicans have to deal with daily. At least the students have a hope of getting out of this, but many will know this for the rest of their lives.I am look forward to the next couple days where they are able to do actual Mexican jobs. Jobs like clamming, field work and rock picking are all jobs we see often here. When the students go out to perform these jobs, all the proceeds from their days labor will go to help the people they are working with. They will be able to double or more the income of the person they are working for. This is such a great experience!