As a previous Volunteer on Hero Holiday in Dominican Republic in 2010, I am so happy to be on my second Hero Holiday. I remember being in grade 9 sitting through my first Live Different Motivational Presentation. It blew my mind, but like many others I went on with my day and forgot all about it. When I was in grade 11, the same thing happened again, I was so interested in these trips they kept mentioning, and how little old me could actually go to Haiti myself and make a difference. It was right then and there in my high school cafeteria I decided I would set out to Live Different. And now I Live Different everyday. I am so excited to be here in Haiti. Right now I am on the roof of our guest house in Port-au-Prince, and I am enjoying wonderful laughter and music in the distance, as I sit here with a nice cool breeze and wind chimes all around me. But before I was able to sit here and enjoy all of this, I had to work REALLY hard the week before.
When we first arrived in Haiti we flew to Cap Haitien. There, we finished building the ceiling to the washrooms and to the principle’s office/teachers lounge area. We also picked up some very heavy rocks. We had assembly lines to get them to the retaining wall we also helped start. We were able to work alongside incredible men who were so great at their jobs and so patient with us as we learned how to get things started. During recess we would take a break and play with the kids. It’s always so fun to play with the kids because we need to know their faces and smiles so that when we look back on this trip, we think of them. I always had to put a child in my mind that I really wanted to see so that when I would be struggling up the hill to get to the school, it would be worth it.
One young man in particular stood out to me the most. It was our last day on the work site, and I was having a really hard time getting up the hill because I was so exhausted. Wesley is his name. He would always hang out in front of our hotel and come with us to the work site and lend a hand – he was a volunteer just as much as we were. He became a part of the team and everybody loved him. He was far ahead of me up the hill and he was carrying the green soccer ball we always brought with us to use to play with the kids. He turned and saw me in the distance struggling to walk up. He walked down to me, reached out his hand and nodded his head to the top of the hill. How could I give up now? I put my hand in his and we walked together.
Those moments are the ones that will stick with you forever, the good ones, the bad ones, the hard ones, and the painful ones. But the moment when you are supposed to be out there helping others and those others help you even more, that stays in the back of your head forever. When we arrived in Port-au-Prince we visited the orphanage, where it was hard for me to see so many kids so happy with what we gave them, even though they don’t have parents. The kids were playing hop-scotch together, laughing, and having so much fun with the chalk they were playing with. I noticed their hop-scotch was a little small for their feet, and so I drew them out a big one; their eyes lit up, their smiles hit their ear lobes, and they were ready to play! One little girl grabbed my hands and she pulled me behind her a thousand times and we played as one. Hop-scotch was something I used to do in grade school as a kid, and I never thought I would be doing it in Haiti as an adult.
When I come on these trips I am able to help the community, my friends, my family, etc. But the kids help me, change me, and love me more then I could ever feel or see or breathe or think in any place in Canada. As I sat with my roommate, looking at the nice art work in our hotel room, we came across this bell. Neetu read out loud the quote on the bell “No one listens to the cry of the poor or the sound of a wooden bell”. She turned to me and said, “well, we do.” With a smile on my face I agreed. I had an amazing experience here in Haiti, I am so sad it’s going over soon, and I will hold it close to my heart forever.
– Cassandra, Participant, Live Different Hero Holiday Haiti