Purpose Amongst Poverty - My Family Travels

From my perch on the blinding white rooftop of the half-built church, I could make out the tips of the farmacias and the scattered rusty storefronts, dreary-eyed like their owners at siesta time. If I squinted a little more, I could see the miles of debris at the bottom of the hill, each pile a home for five children and one exhausted mother. Guarding the scene was a giant white cross, bigger than the church, bigger than the deluxe apartment building down the road, bigger than their sorrows. This symbol of hope is what prompted me to realize that the shoeless, neglected children and the beggars on the streets were no different than I: we were all looking for the same love, acceptance, purpose, and motivation. Anything to help us face another day.

The purpose of my trip to the Dominican Republic wasn’t to visit the beaches or to live like a princess in the fancy hotels. No. My trip was to sweat with the kids in the streets, offering a few meaningful hugs and smiles that they may have never received from their absent fathers or drug-addicted mothers. My trip was to sweat outside the poorest church in town, transporting buckets of rocks to make way for the new concrete steps that still lay in bags of dirt at my feet. My trip was to encourage my teammates and later return to a dirty boarding school bed simply to continue sweating. It was hot.

I’ve never understood why so many of us spend countless hours and dollars trying to please ourselves and enhance our reputations. We buy the overpriced Abercrombie t-shirts, get the newest iPods, and associate with the “right” people just to impress the rest of our materialistic peers. Then we vacation in Bermuda, Bahamas and the Dominican Republic only to surround ourselves with the same commercial-run bubble that seems to have overtaken America; meanwhile, desperate people are suffering just outside the five-star hotel, starving. From time to time, I, too, get lured into sweet egotism, but on this poverty-stricken mountain top I realized that I am simply one in a crowd of billions. The dirty, yet beautiful Dominican barrios taught me that my life would be wasted if I didn’t use it for the benefit of the multitudes of struggling people that surround me.


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1 Reply to “Purpose Amongst Poverty”

  • Great empathy with the Third World countries` plight of the poor. Traveler/student will make a very good missionary in the future and is indeed an excellent writer. Keep up the good work, amber.

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