Jetting to the beautiful island of Jamaica a life change is not what anyone anticipates walking away with. I had always heard amazing stories about this Caribbean paradise, all of which I found to be misleading once I arrived. I was told of the perfect grains of sand, crystal blue waters, flawless skies, and untouchable mountains. Within the hour it took to get into the mountains where we were staying, I saw the most homeless people, small children in the streets, beggars in the roads, dirty huts everywhere, people selling anything, trash fires on the sidewalks, roaming animals, and public urination. Over the next week I worked with severely handicapped children everyday, all of whom were taken in by the organization Mustard Seed Communities (www.mustardseed.com) because they were abandoned due to their parents lack of financial or emotional capabilities.
During that week I changed. At 16 years old I could no longer walk around and see things the way people presented them, because now I knew that things are never the way they are presented. The friends I have don’t even know that Jamaica is considered a third- world country. I don’t blame anyone for their world -view, but I knew that after this week, I could no longer be satisfied with the way I lived, and with the way these people and so many other people live. Those kids whom someone would expect to be absolutely miserable were actually the most pleasant people I had ever been around. They had nothing, and yet they laughed and played, told stories, danced and sang, and I thought, “ I have so much more than they do, and I don’t smile that often.” They inspired me fully.
Since that trip, I’ve changed big parts and little parts of my live. I have decided I will enter the medical field so that I can return to Jamaica and similar countries to help in a way that is needed. All the people I’ve met in Jamaica and all the people I don’t know yet are my motivation to be better and do greater things. I never knew the impact that people or an experience could have on a person, and yet they have crushed me by it. Now when I think of Jamaica, I think of wheelchairs and the small children that they hold, the poorest of the poor, the HIV+ kids I met, and the worst drivers in the world. Some people might wonder if I will ever really go back? And the answer is, I already have.
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