Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Values in Action

Our group celebrated the New Year in a very fun experience in Guatemala. We enjoyed site seeing, shopping, and learning about the culture. After spending four hours in a van, we came back to our home and quickly fell asleep, ready for the next day. We woke up early this morning and headed once again to our worksites.

In Las Delicias we continued working on building a home for a single parent family. It is interesting to see the living conditions of the people. Houses are crowded around one another and built literally in the middle of the trees and wildlife. I feel horrible knowing that this new house is going to make a family very happy, but also knowing that back in the states this is not as good as it gets. The people are happy just to be getting a home, they don’t care that it isn’t going to be much. The family of six is going to have a kitchen, a living room, and two bedrooms, A FAMILY of SIX. I am in awe of how thankful they are just to be given this small dwelling that they will be able to call home.

As soon as we started I was immediately put to work digging trenches for the foundation. I put my muscles to work, pulling away at the dirt with my spike-axe, shoveling the dirt into wheel barrows, and dumping it out of the way. I have to admit, it was hot, sticky, and very dusty. I found myself completely covered in dirt and dripping in sweat. After my first water break I looked at my progress with despair, I felt as if I hadn’t made a dent in the earth at all. I was beginning to get grumpy and thinking nothing was getting done, but then I was surprised to see that a young boy and girl had joined the progress. They were a part of the group of kids who would one day be living in the home and I was humbled to know that they were willing to help build their own home.  I once again picked up my axe and begin digging away again.

Finally lunch came and we joined the other group up at the day care to enjoy our apples and sandwiches, thankfully I was able to find some Nutella instead of the traditional peanut butter sandwiches. I loved being there with the children that I had seen earlier in the week. I have helped with other service projects and I have done many philanthropy events, but nothing has brought more emotion out of me than seeing the smiling faces of the children of El Salvador. They have such a spirit and the biggest hearts. One child, named Daniel, has really touched me deeply. He has the biggest smile, and he is so smart. On Monday, we played memories games, puzzles, and Uno. Today he was excited to play baseball and jump rope. Unfortunately I only had a chance to pitch to him a few times, but I was so excited to get to see him once again.

After lunch we headed back to our building site. We continued scooping more dirt, except this time we had even more help. Ranging from the ages of 4 to 13 little kids were running around the sites excitedly offering a helping hand. After grabbing a drink of water I would find my shovel taken from me by a child of merely seven who eagerly wanted to show how strong she was, and that she could help too. My heart melted as the children threw themselves into working just as hard if not harder than me.

Trying to build the home was difficult and I’m sure it isn’t going to get easier these next couple of days, but it is so much fun. Even while we are working people are joking with one another, and the language barrier can’t stop the smiles and forms of communication we have used. Some people may disagree and say that building a house cannot be fun, but I truly mean it when I say I enjoyed helping build the home because of the people who I was working with. I may be sore, tired, and hot, but I am smiling and that is all that really matters.

We finished up in the afternoon and said our goodbyes. We were able to finish all but one trench which is close to being done. After we returned to the house and scrubbed ourselves clean, and I literally mean scrubbed, I’m still finding dirt on myself; we had dinner with the rest of the group. Around 7 o’clock we gathered to watch a movie based on the Archbishop Romero, who had a significant influence in El Salvador. As a man of God he spoke out for the poor and wanted to find a way to help them. His passion for God and the people ended in his murder; however his spirit lives on in the people.

Tonight during reflection we discussed our fraternal values. Although my sorority has important values I found myself connecting my journey in El Salvador to my sorority’s creed.

To the World I Promise, Temperance, and Insight, and Courage. To Crusade for Justice, to Seek the Truth, and Defend it always. To those whom my life may Touch in slight measure, may I Give Graciously of what is Mine. To my Friends Understanding and Appreciation, to those closer ones, Love that is ever steadfast. To my mind growth to myself Faith, that I may Walk Truly in the light of the Flame.

The words of my creed sum up my sorority’s values. Here in El Salvador I am crusading for the poor and helping them in whatever way that I can. I know I am only helping a small amount, but any help is good help. This journey is also helping my mind grow because I am learning about a new culture and I have a new found faith in the good of humankind.

Greeks can strive to help change the world, one journey at a time. If we are to live by our values and creeds there is no reason why we can’t find the time to help out those less fortunate than ourselves, who may never know how it feels to have a place called home.

Holly Weiss is a senior at Fort Hays State University and President of the Delta Omega Chapter of Delta Zeta Sorority.

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