As many of you know, I (Leanne) have the incredible opportunity to be in the Dominican Republic and Haiti right now. I am part of a team of awesome people who are building homes, schools and other infrastructure for people who live in conditions that are overwhelming. Floods, poverty and government inaction mean they are surrounded by garbage, filth and poverty. However, today I also saw the wealth of community and love that they live within and was humbled by their grace and ability to find joy.
We are working with an incredible organization called Live Different which has built over 200 homes, schools, and other vital infrastructure. Today we had the opportunity to visit two communities (one rural and one urban) that Live Different has working in. We met many incredible people but two stand out for me. Two community leaders.... not because they were elected or sought power... leaders because they have stepped up, walked with their community and filled needs. Pastor Challa saw overwhelming need and knew that education was the first step. Sandra's love for her community radiates clearly from her beautiful face.
Today we also met Lalita and her two children, whose home we will be building. A woman who is struggling with overwhelming health challenges, yet shows such grace and gratitude for us. The connection was instant and powerful and I look forward to getting the chance to get to know Lalita and her family.
As I prepare for bed, I am processing many thoughts and feelings... the most powerful is my reaction to the beach. While I took pictures, I don't think they do justice to the scale or power of the garbage and squalor that flows through the community and lands on the beach. All the garbage from the wealthy city folk is washed down the river and ends in the homes and lives of the beautiful people I met today. As I stared out over the vast expanse of trash, I felt shame, immense sadness and rage all at the same time. I can't begin to unpack all the thoughts and feelings that the sight created for me.
Tomorrow we return to the community and begin to build. It will feel good to take action, however small. Lots to think about....