Three young Lampman residents were in the Dominican Republic from December 27 to January 5 for a Hero Holiday humanitarian trip through an organization named Live Different.
Taylor Roy, Tiana Palmer and Angela Fornwald helped build a house for a deserving family in the capital of Puerto Plata, and they helped out at a garbage dump.
They first heard of Live Different and Hero Holiday while attending a student leadership conference in Meadow Lake in 2010. The three Lampman youths successfully applied, and raised about $10,000, which covered the cost of their flights, meals and accommodations, as well as supplies for the house they constructed and the benefitting family.
Hot lunches, raffles, a bottle drive, and support from friends, family and businesses contributed to their fundraising efforts.
“What we did not realize is how much this experience would impact us for the rest of our lives,” Taylor said.
The first day was an awareness tour and a visit to La Union and Agua Negra (which means “Black Water”). They spent time with the children and met the families who would live in the houses that would be built.
The 30 people who were on the trip were then divided into two teams. Taylor, Tiana and Angela were on Team 2, along with 14 other people. They constructed a home for Carmen and Senior Sanchez, who have a family with seven more people.
The Sanchez's previous home was made of thin wood, Taylor said. The family had no door or floor. Rain would get in their house, their mattresses would be soaked and dirty, and all of their belongings would be ruined.
“We asked Carmen what belongings she had left; she said none,” Taylor said. “We worked on the house for four days, mixing cement and concrete, putting bricks on the house, sifting sand, smooth coating the walls, and playing with the children.”
They also spent a day at a garbage dump that has a lot of Haitian workers.
“It was by far one of the most difficult days; just seeing all of the garbage and the adults and children sifting through the garbage broke your heart,” Taylor said. “It is a life no human deserves.”
The house dedication ceremony took place on the final day of the Hero Holiday. They handed the house keys to the family. This was a monumental day that Taylor said they will never forget.
“We are giving this family a new life, full of opportunities that they never had before. They will be able to live in a house where they will stay dry and be safe and we were apart of it.”
Taylor said she encourages anybody to go on this trip because she said it will be the best, most life-changing experience they will ever have, and it will make them a better person.