A change in the global community
By Farah Kurji, SNN Editor, Hugh Boyd Secondary, Richmond, British Columbia
It was a crisp, yet mildly warm morning as we drove through the deserted mountainous region of Honduras. A lady with her four kids peered out, almost in fright, starring helplessly at us from behind a shack. It was their home. Built out of a bit of cement, and mud, the home was no bigger than a garden shed and was home to a family of six. The thatched roof was in much need of repair after managing to survive the Honduras rainy season. Inside the floor was covered in potato sacks and long cobs of corn serving as harvest hung across the ceiling. No food, running water, toilets? Miles and miles from civilization it was almost as if these people were living in another world. The children in their tattered clothing ~ mere flesh and bones ~ still haunt me today.
In January 2001 my class began to organize the World Vision 30-hour famine that would take place at my school between March 1st-2nd. Students all across Canada would fast for 30 hours to raise $4.5 million for communities overseas. The famine became the most successful in the history of Hugh Boyd Secondary with 200 participants raising over $10,000 for overseas development in countries like Honduras.
After encouragement from my sponsor teacher Mr. Dyck, I decided to apply for World Vision's Overseas Adventure, where World Vision took students between the ages of 15-19 overseas to see projects and hear firsthand accounts of the plight of developing countries. In August of last year I was flown to Toronto with nine other students for interviews. Out of the nine students three of us had the opportunity to embark on a week long voyage to Honduras. Accompanied by Jen Sinyard of Nova Scotia, and Sabrina Brown of Alberta we left for Honduras on January 5th.
Housing: one of the most essentials of life in Honduras, something we here in Canada take for granted every single day of our lives. Throughout our stay in Honduras we visited a number of housing sites and saw how World Vision had built homes for all the communities whose homes had been hit during Hurricane Mitch and Michelle. Around 700,000 people were left homeless from Hurricane Mitch. In this one community of Jamil Hawitt people embraced us with open arms and accepted us as a part of their community. What amazed me was how these simple houses cost only $3,000 and how these houses meant the world to them.
The most rewarding part about the trip was seeing how the lives of so many people had changed just because someone had cared enough to fast for 30 hours. We met this one man named Daniel, who was an alcoholic. With World Vision's help Daniel had kicked his addiction and now has one of the most successful farms in Honduras. The reputation of World Vision overseas is prominent. People kept telling us how their lives had changed because of World Vision and their donors.
We also visited La Puerta where we told stories and played with kids at a nearby school. Our translator Ben told them how thousands of teenagers all across Canada had fasted for 30 hours so that their community could become self sufficient. Many of the adults nearby listening were teary eyed learning that people in a place like Canada care to help them.
We met a thirty-seven year old mother of three who had been diagnosed with Chagas for about two and half years. The Chagas disease is transmitted by a parasite which sucks the victim's blood and eventually damages the internal organs hence killing the victim within twenty years. She was just so strong having to deal with such a devastating disease knowing that she could die any day.
The main thing though that struck me throughout this trip was how evident the gap between the rich and the poor was. Some people in the main cities lived in lavish homes when three hours away deep in the mountains there were children and families suffering. But then I thought how many times do we ignore poverty? How many times do we in Canada turn off the television when commercials come on begging us to help? Why do we convince ourselves that poverty is not our problem?
Now being home for six months I still think about everything that I saw in Honduras. It was definitely a culture shock coming home. I have a new found appreciation for simple things in life such as having running water, food, clothing and housing available to me everyday. I appreciate my family, and friends. I have seen firsthand how people benefit with aid from countries like Canada and I know that the little things, such as fasting for 30-hours can make a profound difference in someone else's life. I am a new revitalized person who believes and knows now more than ever that I have the power within myself to change the world.
To make your mark on the developing world log on to World Vision's Website: www.worldvision.ca/30hourfamine .
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