When was the last time something was in the first place you looked? Often it’s in the last place we expect… and it’s probably time for a change.

My wonderful husband and I are spending two months in the Dominican Republic with the humanitarian and youth empowerment non-profit Live Different (www.LiveDifferent.com) as leaders on Hero Holiday trips. These trips are often the first time youth will engage with the global community– realizing how fortunate they are, what conditions the majority of the world lives in, and takes them through an intense roller coaster of emotion, leaving them as individuals who head home to be beacon of change and passionate about sharing their experience with those around them.

While most individuals argue about whether sending only money is more beneficial to aiding a community across the globe, the youth taking part in these amazing trips will tell you nothing compares to being in the community, working along side people possibly more loving then even your best friends at home, and now having a face come to mind when someone speaks the word ‘poverty’.

The community we work in is called Neuvo Renacer (meaning New Rebirth). The name of the community could not be more perfect. Originally named Agua Negras (Black Water) due to the garbage and pollution that runs through the streets, Neuvo Renacer is a new title granted to the deserving community after leaders there, seeing the change groups like Live Different are making, worked to have it changed.

When I think of the word ‘community’ in a more North American setting it reminds me of weekend bonfires, meals shared with a few close friends when the timing works for everyone in their regularly busy schedules, and gatherings– especially for holidays or other events we deem ‘special’.

While there is nothing technically wrong with that, I fear we have lost the beauty of what community really looks like.

An adorable and loving Haitian girl and I in Neuvo Renacer.

In Neuvo Renacer the word community takes on the most amazing form of life, love and inspiration. Do you know your neighbours? Do you know the people that live near you so well that you would let your children wander off at any point in the day because you know they will be looked after? Have you ever had to rely on those living in the houses beside you for food and water?  The answers to inquiries like these is generally a no from myself and would be a no from most people I know. Here in Neuvo Renacer this is a daily occurrence.

The people who have, by our standards, nothing are the individuals who so freely give everything they do have to help others. They have more faith then almost anyone else I know and give more love to all they encounter more than some individuals ever experience on even their best days. It’s the place you would least expect to see unshakable faith, unwavering love, and unfailing hope that things can get better.

“Day In The Life” from the first Hero Holiday Public Trip.

Just today, while supervising and ensuring our volunteers were making the most of their “Day in the Life” experience, I was met again with amazing faith. The father of the family said to us, “It is an answered prayer to have you here.” One of the volunteers responded with, “We are blessed to be here.”

How often do we genuinely feel ‘blessed to be here’? Here in this life, here in this moment? Not only should we be living our lives greatly inspired to be a positive force of change with abundant love to freely give, we should no longer allow ourselves to be surprised by how faith, hope and love are where we least expect– but aspire to live a life where all we can do is show these actions to everyone we encounter as a reflection of how blessed we truly are.

To learn more about Live Different and Hero Holidays check out the Live Different website at www.LiveDifferent.com 
Also check out their Facebook to see more images of the work being done in the Dominican Republic! www.Facebook.com/pages/Live-Different/