As many of you know, I recently went on a tropical vacation to the Dominican Republic. I stayed at an all inclusive resort for adults and wow, did we receive the royal treatment. A typical day consisted of lounging by the pool or ocean, sipping on pina coladas, beer or any drink of our choosing. One day, we even drank out of real coconuts spiked with rum. Deeeeelicious! Lets just say, life on the resort wasn’t exactly roughing it. It wasn’t until we left the resort for a day trip that we truly realized how radically different life is for the locals.
On a dune buggy excursion around the island, I witnessed poverty like I had never seen before. As we toured the island we saw trash scattered all across the ground. We saw shack homes that looked as though they were pieced together with random scraps of metal, plastic or wood. The children would chase after the buggies offering flower blooms in exchange for money. I noticed these “flower blooms” looked more like what we consider weeds at home. Most of these children appeared undernourished and were partially dressed in rags, most without shoes or shirts. As I looked around at these homes, people and children, I felt as though I was living inside a “Feed the Children” commercial which brought on feelings of helplessness and sadness.
When we returned back to the resort, I took a warm shower and spent some time by myself regrouping my thoughts. My mind was going a million miles a minute thinking about ways that I could help. As an American, my first thought was to throw money at the problem by giving handouts. I was then reminded of the quote, “If you give someone a fish, you will feed them for a day. If you teach someone to fish, you will feed them for a lifetime.” My experience also made me more aware of the things I take for granted such as my belly fat, that I continually try to get of. Also the fact that I can easily turn on the faucet for clean drinking water and the floor I stand on is not made of dirt.
In all honesty, I still don’t have an answer on how to address this complicated problem we call poverty. The only thing that I can promise for now is that I will stop denying its existence. This experience was eye opening for me because the conditions in which people live was not just a commercial but I witnessed it in real life. It felt like a smack in the face. I hope that I never forget the feelings I felt that day on the dune buggy excursion because not only did it humble me, it also solidified that my reality is not everyone's reality. Forever more, I will try and be more thankful for all of my life's blessings. We can all work on being more thankful for what we have. I challenge you to share when you have extra with those who have less.
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