For the past three years, I have spent my spring break in Mexico. Now I know what you’re thinking: tanning on hot beaches, staying in luxurious coastal hotels, being waited on hand and foot. But no, I’m talking about real Mexico, the Mexico you don’t see in touristy guide books or summer beach magazines, the Mexico of rabid dogs, of dirt and dust, of poverty.
Each spring break, I spend the week in Tijuana, Mexico with Younglife, a Christian Youth Organization, and we build a house for a homeless family.
Rather than staying in a hotel, we slept at an orphanage filled with kids who just wanted our attention. There was no luxury—we slept on foam mattresses, took cold showers and watched no TV—and yet we were well off at the orphanage compared to the rest of the Tijuana community.
Many families are homeless and starving, but not because they don’t work or they have mental problems—like the homeless we’re accustomed to. They work hard to support their families, but because of different obstacles, they are unable to own a home.
The family we built a house for this year had repeatedly been cheated out of their money. The mother, Gabi, had met with people who said they would build a house for her if she gave them her money and instead, they stole her money and ran off. Gabi had never owned a home before even though her husband had a job.
When we first arrived at the work site, Gabi was already in tears; she thought she was dreaming. She couldn’t believe that we were actually there to help her because she had never experienced such human-to-human kindness.
By building the house for her and her family, we made a difference in their lives with very little effort. It wasn’t hard to build a house and to us, it was only one week of our lives, but to the family, it meant everything.
In our society, the simple life is always taken for granted. We are so accustomed to having everything and being able to get anything we want. There are no limits or obstacles for many of us. But for others like Gabi and her family, the simple things in life are hard to attain.
Because of our little effort to help her family, Gabi’s dreams came true. Making a difference in her life showed me about the kind of person I want to be. I want to be the kind of person who devotes themselves to selfless deeds because they are the most rewarding acts anyone can do in the world. Sure you can win a CCS championship, you can graduate at the top of your class and you can go on to win a Nobel Peace Prize. And yes, such achievements are the result of hard work, but the greatest achievements, I believe, are the ones that positively affect others more than yourself and in return of such good deeds, you will know more about the world around you and will be a more accomplished person who changed someone else’s life.