I’ve been lucky enough to go on a few service trips before this one. I’ve cleaned out a house affected by Hurricane Sandy alongside the homeowners and I turned on water in woman’s house for the first time, 7 years after Katrina however, this experience in Batey 50 was bar-none the most incredible experience of them all. I spoke to a lot of people who had already gone on this trip but none of their descriptions could have ever prepared me for how I felt when I was there.
I am generally a very happy and positive person but I have never seen or experienced happiness like I did in Batey 50. These people have nothing, not even enough food to feed their children yet, they are the happiest people I have ever met in my entire life. Yes, their lives are so much harder than ours yet, they are all so much more content in them. When I was discussing this with one of my friends she told me about a quote she heard on the flight to the DR. “Its not the happy people who are grateful but the grateful people who are happy.” That quote has really resinated with me and I’ve thought about it constantly since being back in the states. I think if everyone had a little more of that mindset instead of being focused on what we want or “need” the world would be a better place.
That being said, I came to realize that some types of happiness are universal. On New Years Day, a girl I really connected with, Belinda, won a bike. I went with her to bring it home to show her father and brother. Her older brother stopped playing with his toys and went over to the bike. At first it seemed as though he was going to try and take it from her, but he didn’t. He started teaching his sister how to ride the bike, and kept it balanced for her while she figured out the pedals in circles around their backyard. I watched this moment unfold with their father and when I looked at him, I saw the proud joyous face that I’ve seen on my own Dad. It was a beautiful moment that I will never forget.
Forever thankful for this experience and reality check,