By Dorothy Soares, Ryerson University Outreach Trip Participant
From May 1 – May 15, I had the opportunity to join SOS on an outreach trip to Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua. This trip exceeded every single one of my expectations and every moment spent was an experience. Our project was to help build a new kindergarten classroom to replace the old one. As much as helping out on the worksite was an experience itself, personally I found interacting with the community and living among everyone was the true highlight. There is no way to express how caring, friendly, open and amazing they were.
Football, or soccer as we call it in Canada, was a favourite in Pueblo Viejo. One of the volunteers that I worked with on the trip brought a huge package to the community that contained soccer jerseys, balls and pumps. On one of the last days of our trip the principal of the school helped to organize a soccer tournament with all the kids wearing the new jerseys. As he handed them out at school and the children lined up waiting to receive one, I watched, waiting to see their expressions as they came out. Each one had a huge smile on their face, which was contagious. Before I knew it, I was smiling to myself and laughing as some of them came out running or screaming to their friends.
On another occasion, there were two boys that really impacted my experience there. As a thank you a few of us decided to get together and buy jerseys representing their favourite team for them. Watching their face turn from confusion to surprise then see the smile appear was the best feeling. You know those I-can’t-help-but-smile smiles you get? That was the exact smile I had on my face watching them unfold the jerseys and I couldn’t stop. The smile just would not leave. It was at this point that I realised, although the present was a physical object, the gift was seeing their happy faces… and the smile that appeared on my face.
This trip taught me smiles are priceless and to appreciate everything. Even though we were there to offer our help, the community did more for me than I imagined. It was an unimaginable experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!