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 When the opportunity to write a blog for Hero Holiday came up, a spark lit up inside of me. I am a guy who passionately enjoys writing, and passionately enjoys everything that LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) stands for, so how I never realized the potential for combining the two is beyond me.I have been on three Hero Holiday humanitarian trips prior to this one, and each one has held substantial significance in my eighteen year-old life. It is almost hard for me to reconcile my own state of mind prior to my first experience in Mexico. It seems like maturity could not have happened if my eyes were not opened up to the things I’ve seen, or the atrocities I’ve experienced.This trip brings a whole new perspective to my life that I hadn’t before had the ability to comprehend.     The fact first hit me when the first crack of thunder rolled through the hills of the Dominican Republic. It was as if my heart stalled as the impossibly loud boom echoed throughout the skies (I later found out that this was one of the most violent storms in a very long time, according to the one of the locals). The reason the thunder struck fear in me was not because of its obvious awesome appeal; instead it was because of a story Cole Brown had told my ‘team’ earlier that day.We toured through the village of Agua Negra (Black Water) and as we did Cole showed us his true passion. A passion I will never cease to admire, respect, and envy. He explained to us that the low setting most of the impoverished community resided on provided an inescapable vice. A nearby river, which was flooded with trash, dead animals, sewage, toxins… and swimming children, was incredibly susceptible to flooding if the down poor of Dominican rain was heavy. He explained that most of these families would find themselves at least ankle deep in water, and many of them would have to resort to climbing up on mattresses and shivering as a feeble attempt to obtain any sort of comfort.A story is a story, and words are words. When Cole shared these facts of Agua Negra with us, I listened intently, and I felt an immense flood of sympathy and pity for the people forced to reconcile that sort of lifestyle. But the true reality of the situation did not hit me until that first crack of thunder.That crack of thunder, followed by a heavy rainfall, forced me to think about the people of that poor town. I contrasted their dismal situation in regards to nature’s wrath with my own back home. I thought about the fact that if a storm stirs in Edmonton, I need simply to hoof it home, or to a friend’s, and wait it out. For these people however, the nearest haven is not enough… and for their entire lives it never has been.That is a fact I have trouble reconciling; that people in this world cannot even get out of the rain. I remember reading books when I was young about hiding from the rain, and finding sanctity in the nearest building. That is how I always saw it, it was something I had overlooked and taken for granted. I cannot even imagine having an inability to simply be dry. It is such a small concept to the people of wealthy North America, getting out of the rain. Fleeing from the elements is an easy feat for the fortunate, and I never realized that because of the location others were born, it proves to be an impossibility. These people are not stupider than anyone else, they are not lesser than anyone else, they are not less deserving than anyone else, yet it is them who are forced to reconcile a life of fear, caution, and struggle. I have always been thankful for being born into a blessed environment the way I was, but I have never been as grateful as I was when that thunder struck. Imagining the faces of the children forced to shiver in the cold, forced to frantically move about in their cramped homes and move their food to higher ground. I cannot even imagine back home being in a situation where I am forced to attempt a futile salvage of my household necessities.I have experienced and dealt with the drastically poor before, but it was not until then that I understood why people like those who work at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) are as passionate as they are. I truly saw the disparity of our world clearly, and my own reality made me sick to my stomach. The people we are helping down here are amazing. Back home one of our biggest fears is that we will not try hard enough to achieve all the goals we wish to in life… but down here these people are not given the chance to even progress and make their own lives better. These people are not even granted the foundation to reach their potential.  These poor people have not failed in any way to deserve the world they were born into; instead the world they were born into has failed them. I have always personally believed that a fundamental human right should be having the foundation to reach ones full potential… whether they achieve that potential is up to the individual. The fact that these people do not have that foundation sickens me, and it is the primary reason driving my purpose of being here.I have fallen in love with the unfortunate not out of pity, but out of hope. Hope that one day the world will realize its failings and salvage the purity left in it. A hope that one day it will be possible for an average American, to serve an Average Dominican or Haitian. A hope that one day humanity will see eye to eye, and flourish in this complicated dilemma we call life… together.~ Mason, an intern in the DR

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 11th, 2010