For my project, my church organized a group of volunteers to make a trip to Tijuana, Mexico. There were commissioned to make a cement foundation for the children of the neighborhood to play on, so that they would have no need to play on the dirt roads that were lined with garbage and jagged rocks. While this may sound like an easy task, I assure it was not. In the United States, I've only seen cement made in two ways: by adding water to a premixed cement bag, and huge trucks which mix cement. My group mixed the cement by hand. First we shoveled sand. We shoveled thirty-two big barrows of sand to the mixing site. We only had two barrows, so we were constantly filling, emptying, and refilling. Next, as the sun rose to its mid-day peak we repeated our shoveling; this time we used gravel. At about one o'clock we actually started mixing, after lugging the 100 pound bags of cement to our mixing area. We added water to the pile, and began to knead the mixture like dough using our shovels. After all the ingredients came together to form a dark grey goop, we picked up our now heavy shovels and began to shovel the cement into the barrows. We wheeled the cement to the location the foundation was to be made, and we began pouring it in.
After five hours our task was complete. A task that could have easily been done in two hours with materials that are too often taken for granted. On this first trip, I realized the importance of solidarity. As a race, we must help those who are in need. On this trip, while walking to the restroom, I overheard something that will remain with me always. A little girl about five years old, walks to a friend of mine and says, "Esta usted aqui para salarnos?" And as his eyes watered he replied, "No, te me ahorro." What she asked is that if we were there to save them. And he replied that we were there because they were saving us. And he's right. True I may be helping her community, but she's helping me too. Because of this little girl's need, she is keeping me from drugs, gangs, and crime. There is myriad of negative things that I could delve into, but her needs keep me away from them by helping her. It was amazing to see this little girl's smile and gratitude that she and her whole community had for us. I know that this small work is insignificant to those who aren't affected but to these people, it was the world. The smiles of these people, that were etched into my heart and mind is why I do something. I believe that if I can help just one person's daily life to be just a smidge easier, then I know I have lived a fulfilling life.