Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Have you ever met a chicken that hated it’s life? Me neither. But, I have definitely met a lot of chickens that, if I were them, I would hate my life. What is there to love about being a chicken if you live in the developing world? You spend all day dodging traffic, trying to find food for your chicks, hoping that your number hasn’t been called.The first time we ever walked through that village in Dominican Republic, I remember trying to process what was going on around me – but there was too much. Vaden and I were there on vacation, to be honest. We had worked hard traveling all year with our road teams, and now that school tours were done for the year, we found a cheap deal to escape to the Caribbean sun for a week, completely oblivious to what we were about to encounter. But life in paradise was proving to be boring and after the third day we were tired of looking at the same drunk, sunburned people around our resort pool. We needed out. It was at that point that we remembered that we actually had friends in Dominican Republic who were missionaries in the local area. Why not give them a call and see what they do? As their little white pickup pulled up to the door of our resort, our lives were about to be rocked and we were completely oblivious.An innocent question changed the future of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), and consequently, our own lives: “Would you like to see a little bit of the real Dominican Republic?”It was a 7 minute drive from our resort gate to the entrance to that village. I got out of the truck and began to walk among the homes and families that lived there. Wide smiles, kind eyes, endless calls of “hola!” greeted us – all of them in the midst of, what was for me at that time, the biggest concentration of poverty I had been exposed to. I will never forget that day: the smells, the sounds, the collision of realities. All of it is etched in my mind because it is where my life changed – for the better. And when I met that lady, the deal was sealed.We sat on the hard dirt floor of her tiny house – not even the size of my kitchen – and she began to show me what life was like from her perspective. She told me of how the rats nibbled on her children’s fingers if she didn’t have all 5 of them on the one saggy, dirty bed at night, how her house flooded every rainy season because of the deforestation behind her on the hill, of how hard it was to be a single mother, and of how scary it is to be in a country that is not her home and where neither her nor her children have identity papers. She taught me about life that afternoon on that dirt floor.As we left her house and walked back through the village, a tiny, fluffy chick raced in front of my feet. A little boy’s laughter followed behind it, as he raced to pick it up and play with it (much to the little chicken’s angst!). As I watched that little chick and all the other scrawny chickens that were wandering around that tiny street, I couldn’t help but laugh and say, “Now I get it! He really is just trying to get to the other side!”At the end of the day our friends dropped us back at our resort, and I walked back through the resort, past the same drunk and sunburned people. But I was changed. My heart was broken and my sense of justice was enraged by what I had experienced. As I sat on the floor of our hotel room and cried, I came to the conclusion that tears are not enough. Tears won’t change lives, and tears won’t help fight back at poverty. But people can, and there was a reason why LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) had such a huge influence in Canadian high schools. That influence could be used to write history.Exactly 14 months later, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) returned to Dominican Republic with our first Hero Holiday group of 180 people. Together we built safe housing, dug trenches for fresh, clean water to be delivered to a village, met people we would never forget, and had our lives imprinted forever by the experience. We have never looked back.To date, LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) has taken over 2500 people on Hero Holidays to Dominican Republic, Mexico, Thailand and Haiti. We do this because of one reason: we believe in the potential of this generation to change the world and we want to give them the opportunity to prove it.You can be a part of what we do! To find out more about Hero Holiday, check out www.heroholiday.com.