Standing at the Edge

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Boy at the OceanI can’t quite put my finger on it: is it the sound of the waves slapping against the shoreline that mesmerizes us? Is it the sheer vastness of more water than we can humanly imagine? Is it the mystery of the deep, dark depths and what it contains? What is it about the ocean that has captured man’s imagination and fueled our industry and creativity since time began? It is the one thing we seem unable to tame as a human race, and it is the one thing that we all hold a healthy fear of.If you have never seen the ocean, I can understand that it may not mean a lot to you. Perhaps you have never had the chance to dip your toes in the water and be awed by the vastness of a globally connected body of water, or haven’t ever thought about the perplexity of so much water and power. The incredible amount of life that teems within those waters, the number of lives that are dependent on them, and the staggering power of the roll of waves may not seem like a big deal to you. But once you see it, you view life in a different way; the secrets of the world only seem to grow when you stand at it’s edge.For that little boy that day on a hot, January day in Haiti, the ocean was an overwhelming mystery that begged him to stop and stare, purely for the sheer joy of drinking it all in.Sitting and WaitingHe had been at the children’s home for a long time. No one could give us an exact date. Like many of the other children there he was a statistic of poverty: abandoned, alone, and without any means of survival. No one will ever know what evils he had experienced or what future crisis he was now going to avoid because he was there. But he wasn’t just an average, poor, abandoned child: he suffered with severe epilepsy, was given to grand mal seizures regularly, and somehow, before he came to that home, he had broken his arm during a seizure and it was never able to be set. He cradled the atrophied appendage against his side, always walking slowly and carefully, always quiet and looking down.When the guys had decided to offer the kids from the home a day to party, they pulled out the usual “LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) style” party routine: fried chicken, swimming, and ice cream. Fifty kids and workers loaded on to a dilapidated and tired school bus and made the long trek to the “good beach” well outside of Port-Au-Prince. Stopping along the way to buy bathing suits and get supplies, they continued on until they reached the quiet stretch of beach, where it was safe for the kids to play in the water. Despite living only a couple of kilometers from the shoreline, very few of the children had ever swam, much less experienced seeing the ocean up close like this. This was going to be a day like no other for them and they were ready to live it up to the fullest!Fun in the WaterWhen they arrived, all the kids began to tumble out of the bus, eager to get suited up and jump in to the warm ocean water. All except him. He just stayed back, timidly waiting for everyone else to go running in, and then he followed slowly behind. A few meters away from where everyone was playing he found an old cement step on the edge of the water. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity, quietly looking out over the water,  watching as the other kids waved at him to come in, cradling his arm and trying to process what was in front of him. I wonder what he was thinking? Was he dreaming of what lay beyond the horizon? Was he imagining what he would do if he could run and jump and play like the other children that day? Was he missing his mother or family that no one knew of? Was he taking a moment to allow the dream to sink in that he was finally touching the ocean? In that place, on that day, for the first time in his life, he was allowed to sit there and be free to think about what he wanted, to drink in the experience, and to know that today it was going to be okay.I don’t know what tomorrow holds for children such as him. There are millions of disabled children around the world who like him, need to have proper medical attention before it is too late, need to be given proper medication to ensure a quality of life, and who just need to know that they are worth celebrating and that they are not forgotten. Their voice may be weak, but their spirits can be strong – if only we will help them to believe it. This year, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) will be returning to Haiti to work with the children’s home that is mentioned in this story. We will be helping to better their living conditions and increase their resources for success. We need your help to make it happen and we are looking for people to join us in the experience. To find out more check out the Hero Holiday Haiti section on

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 25th, 2009