The family that our team is building for is made up of Florencia, and her two adult sons, Martin and Jose. During the trip, I found out that Martin had been born with a clubbed foot and has had to live with it his whole life due to very limited access to medical care. This struck close to home for me because my youngest sister was also born with two clubbed feet. Although we were able to get reconstructive surgery, I remember how expensive it was, even with all the healthcare we are fortunate enough to have in Canada. It was very difficult to afford, but possible. Florencia unfortunately could not begin to dream of affording such an operation for her son. I remember very well how hard it was on my family and how much my mother would lock herself away in her room to cry, then try to come out and pretend nothing was wrong. She didn’t want us to know her pain and this gives me all the respect in the world for Florencia.
To be able to bring up a son and raise him to be as kind of a man as he is, is nothing short of amazing. I know personally that even after surgery, my sister still cannot do many of the things that we all do without thinking twice; how embarrassed she gets when she says she has to stop because her ankle hurts her too bad. To see Martin work with us in his work boots like nothing was wrong makes me see him as almost super human. To see him work so hard with a smile on his face, while whistling, singing, and talking is so inspirational. I am beyond honoured and humbled to be a part of this Live Different/Building Dreams trip.
After talking to Florencia about my younger sister and how much I respected her and Martin, she stood up, wiped away her eyes, hugged me for an extended period of time and said to me, “you are my son now”. This above all was such a heartwarming and overwhelming feeling. She is such a kind and amazing woman, as is everyone I have had the privilege of encountering in this community. It amazes me how community orientated everyone is and how they will not even think twice about going out of their way to help their neighbour. Knowing people with such wonderful values and outlooks is a rare commodity where I live. It is very rare to even see a person help another without some way of benefiting or making a profit for him/herself. I see people stepping on other people to raise their position everyday. It is so disheartening how these people are often the ones that succeed in our individualistic world. I find it so refreshing to have an escape from that. Even though we are so wealthy and have so much, these people who some might consider to be unfortunate are the real wealthy ones. We live in such an organized society where we are trained to judge one another by our bank accounts and how much materialistic ‘stuff’ we have. I truly wish everyone back home could understand what these people know without a doubt – that some things are more important than money.