Hola mis amigos y las familias, somos David Do y Stephen Ton. Hi friends and family, we are David and Stephen. We were today’s leaders of the day for “Living on a $ a day.” It wasn’t what you’d expect it to be. We weren’t just given a dollar to cluelessly spend on our own. In our case, a bag of chips and we’d be bankrupt for the day. We had an opportunity to put ourselves into the shoes of the locals as we shadowed them throughout their daily lives.
This experience was really enlightening and an eye opener to each glimpser. It gave us a reality check on the difference between the things we need and the things we want. From starting the previous night off with no electricity and a shower that required only a bucket and a bowl, we can confidently say that we experienced a similar reality (but not the exact). Starting off our day waking up around 5am and having to eat a simple breakfast that consisted of beans and a slice of bread,we wanted to make this experience as real as possible. For me, David, beans and just bread wasn’t easy. Then on top of that, having to face the difficulty of the language barrier between my host family added another challenge.
Ari and I learned how to make tortillas, make arts and crafts with barely any supplies, and wash clothes without a machine washer. We accomplished all that just by being instructed with hand gestures and smiles of approval. I’m not just showing off the things we did but to share the experience we went through that made us grateful for the life we have back home and the available opportunities that are given to us. This just made us feel blessed deep inside working with the locals.
I, Stephen, on the other hand had a somewhat similar experience, but not completely. Claudia and I were welcomed by our host mom with a traditional greeting, which was then followed by us walking through feces covered land. At first, communication was limited because I feel as though our ‘mom’ didn’t want to make us do anything unless we showed we wanted to. But being the courageous glimpsers we are, Claudia and I asked her if she needed help at every possible minute. We washed dishes, we cleaned potatoes (which I later carried to the stove and burned my fingers), we made their beds, we folded their laundry, we did a back breaking sweeping workout, and we did an intense, arm enhancing laundry workout using only a flat rock, a bar of soap, and the mosquito infested water. At home, all of these tasks would only take a couple of minutes, but having to do them in a couple of hours makes you really think about how much we take everything for granted. Sometimes, if the electricity goes out, the locals have to sleep at 7; simply because without electricity, activity would be pointless. When we think about that, why should we complain?
The family was made up of the mother of 6, the 18 year old wife, a 20 month old baby who was constantly coughing, and an 11 year old girl who was the sweetest. This family, along with the other families in the community, dealt with many problems every day, but the one thing that they all had in common was that despite their hardships, they were happy. For example, when I saw the mom comforting her son and making him laugh as she tried to stop him from coughing, I couldn’t help but smile.
After our chores were finished, Claudia, Jessica, Vivian, and I were led by two kids, one from my home and one from another, to a breathtaking view point. This is where the 11 year old girl and I made a connection, because at first I was randomly asking her questions which she didn’t answer with much enthusiasm. During the hike, she was telling me about everything as I responded with “no se” but I could tell she was getting comfortable with me.
Overall, the experience for both of us and the rest of the glimpsers was life changing. We ended our day with the community in a small school that taught primary and preschool levels. There we held a pinata party and played musical chairs, and we got to see all the smiles of the locals as the children excitedly reached for candy.
Finally, we cleaned up, took pictures, gave hugs, gave a gift, and said good-bye to our host families. As we walked away from this once in a life time opportunity, we knew that though we had started off as strangers, we had left as family.
“We are not rich by what we possess but what we can do without.” – Immanuel Kant