Why I do what I do…

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5720_99643565325_95760375325_2220986_1349953_n “Why do you spend $2500 to go to hard labour in the hot sun??”A question I hear again and again from people that just don’t understand.I don’t blame them, I guess its hard to understand when you’ve never actually experienced it.Hero Holiday has shown me so much my last two trips to the Dominican Republic- and brought out emotions in me that I didn’t even know i had.To sum it up in one sentence? An extraordinary eye-opening experience that I will never forget.You always see on TV or learn in your social studies class about all the poverty in the world. How there’s millions of kids dying from hunger, and about all the horrible conditions they live in. Hundreds of thousands of children dying everydayTo us, us lucky less-than-one-percent of the world that have won life’s lottery, by just being born in the right place, that’s just a number. Just a simple “oh that’s so sad” then we go on with our day. It’s not a reality to us.It’s not a reality until you hold that little child hand. The child that grabbed your hand as soon as your feet left the  truck, and the child that held tight and didn’t let go until you were dragged back into the truck to go back. The same little hand that works countless hours a day to make a couple cents for their family, picking through garbage, shining shoes…People in Canada who depend of welfare, are in the top 4% of the richest people in the whole world.Just think about that.6654_1076690650894_1635060164_256565_4145493_n Last year, the biggest thing I learned when I went the trip was: the media in North America portrays poverty unrealistically, in order to get more people to support their organization. Have you ever watched those sponsor a child commercials? Ever notice how all the children that they film have big sad eyes, just walk around with no energy, and are hopeless? That’s not the case at all. Most of the children in the Dominican Republic are the most hopeful children I’ve ever seen. They’re grateful with the little that they have, they’re always running around, happy, joyful, with the biggest smiles on their faces. They’re not moping around feeling sorry for themselves, they’re running around thankful that they’re alive. They ran around on the hot dirt in their little bare feet, leaving little footprints everywhere. They offered me anything of theirs that they had with them, little lemon seeds they find to eat, they always offered me one before giving one to their sibling, then taking one for themselves. That gave me so much inspiration. Inspiration to live every day to the fullest, and be grateful with what you have.5720_100303810325_95760375325_2230994_1897828_n  This year, when I went back, I saw all those happy faces again, remembering the ones that wouldn’t let go of my hand, and the ones that left footprints in my heart. It was a whole new experience. I thought coming back would be just like the last year, same work sites, etc. However, this year I found myself in mostly new work sites, and a whole different experience. One place we did not visit last year was the public hospital in Puerto Plata. Our main job there was painting, half of the day we painted the walls and ceilings, and half the day we visiting the section with the children from newborn babies to 14 year olds. We brought them colouring books, crayons, playdough, and their favourite – bubbles!I sat next to a small girl, she was 12 years old. I don’t know what brought me to her, but as everyone met eyes with a child and went over to say hello, she was the only one that didn’t look over at the door to us, faced the other way, almost as if she was stuck. I went over, held her hand and introduced myself. When I asked her her name, and how old she was, she replied in a dry and scratchy voice “agua” I was alarmed, she sounded as if her vocal chords were on5720_99147145325_95760375325_2214299_5563832_nthe verge of breaking from being dry. I hurried and got her fresh, cold water, and she looked up and me and smiled. I showed her the colouring book I brought over, and handed her a crayon. She held it for a moment, and gave the crayon back to me, pointing at the picture of the stars and fish she chose. Confused, I did as she asked and we spent 20 minutes colouring the pictures together. I fanned out the colours I had, she pointed at the colour she wanted, then pointed in the area that she wanted me to colour it in. I wondered what was wrong with her, she could barely gather up the energy to colour in one tire of a car, then once again handed me the crayon. After a while, we were told to leave and go to a different area of the hospital so the nurses and doctors could do their check ups and such. When I came back maybe half an hour later, her mother and aunt was there, packing up her sheets, and belongings. I was very confused and in midst of their packing I folded the coloured pictures and handed them to her mother. She looked at me with very sad eyes, and looked at the little girl. Panicking, I asked one of the girls that can speak Spanish to translate for me and ask her mother what was wrong with the girl, and why they were going home when she was clearly not well. She told me that the little girl had fevers, pains – all over the body, enough that she can’t move, and they were taking her home. She did not have to say it, I could see it in the mother’s eyes. She had lost all hope for her daughters survival, and decided to take her home. My heart broke in an instant. I thought losing hope wasn’t an option. I was so used to the people I met being so filled with hope, all the kids running around, and I was so sure that this little girl was going to stay in the hospital until she was well enough to colour all the pictures in the book herself…All the hands I’ve held, the smiles I’ve seen, every single one of them, have left a footprint in my heart, they’ve taught me a lesson I will never forget. Lessons that make me focus on what I have, and not the things I want, making me thankful for my family, friends, and for my life I’ve lived, and my future ahead of me. Lessons that help me see the world differently, and lessons that make me realize that one person can make a difference.That is why I fund raise, and That is why I go. To remember the lessons learned.~ Hanee, a Hero Holiday Participant

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 20th, 2009