According to the Homeless World Cup Foundation, 50 percent of the Mexican population live below the poverty line. Fifteen thousand to 30,000 Mexicans live on the streets alone. I believe this problem is one that needs to be fixed. Along with this, we need to fix our attitude towards poverty. I believe that we, students at the high school, are prone to pity people from impoverished areas. Service trips are not only helpful because they aid the community, but also because they help to break stereotypes and help teach us about what happiness truly is.
Youth Unlimited Gospel Outreach ministries is a non-profit organization that hosts mission trips in Enseñada, Mexico. Sophomore Maya Van-Overbeeke Costello and I participate annually in these trips through a Canadian church group. Over the course of one week, our group of roughly 30 people splits into two groups and each builds a house for a homeless family.
My group was building a house for the Sanchez-Pacheco family. Juan Sanchez, a motivated and strong factory-worker, Rosa, a loving and smart tutor and Carlos, an adorable two-year-old boy made up the family. It was clear that they were an extremely capable and strong family. It is from seeing this family that I learned that just because they did not have a house it did not mean they were weak or below me in any which way.
Furthermore, service trips can teach students about what happiness truly means. Happiness does not come from materialistic things, which was made clear to me after seeing how happy this family was despite not even having a roof over their head. Before the trip, I had neglected to consider what hard-working, loving, and dedicated people they were and had instead assumed that they could not be happy without having money.
By seeing people happy despite not having their basic needs met, students can learn that happiness does not require money. While students at the high school can be happy without needing their phone or money, often times we opt to use our phones. Of course, we should not disregard them, but we should spend time away from them and try to have fun without them. This is an important lesson that can teach students to appreciate what they have whether or not it is always tangible.
Part of what the trip taught me is that in a world where there are many factors beyond our control, we should learn to focus on what we can control. Happiness can mean many things, but to me, it means looking on the bright side, being optimistic and most importantly, choosing positivity. Students can benefit from this lesson, and learn that they too should try to choose happiness.
This trip changed my life and I hope that many people will be able to benefit from what I learned. We may have built a house for the Sanchez-Pacheco family, but they gave me so much more.
The high school offers many service trips and I would strongly recommend going on one, not just to assist the community, but also to learn about happiness and see what it truly means. By expanding ourselves from the bubble that is Brookline, and seeing how little people can have and how happy they can be with that, we can learn why we should not take anything for granted. Above all, I learned that we should appreciate our lives and every aspect of them.