I believe in social equality and making a difference. The summer before I started college, I was fortunate enough to spend one week in New Orleans, working with Habitat for Humanity and fellow Clark University students. I had never been forced to leave my comfort zone. I was in an unfamiliar place with complete strangers.
Apparently the news about our group taking the initiative to help build the house that week had spread. Two boys who lived around the corner named Sam and Trellis decided to stop by and watch what was going on. They ended up spending all day everyday at the house. Sam reminisced about what he lost in the hurricane and how his life changed. He also told us he needed to steal food if he wanted to eat.
Later in the week, I learned more about his poor family. He told me his house was crammed with much of his extended family. Despite all these people constantly around him, not enough of these people cared about him. He told me it didn’t even matter when he returned back to school after summer vacation. He said he hated going to school because he the teachers supposedly did not care if a student brought a gun to school. I didn’t know how true Sam’s stories were, but the hurricane definitely had an unusual impact on his mind and lifestyle.
One day, Sam asked me if he could come inside the house to look at it with Trellis. Even though they were not supposed to come inside the house, I said it would be fine for a few minutes. Sam asked me if he could paint one of the doors. I said it was fine and then I told him he was doing a good job. After we left the house, he said he wanted to be like me and turn over a new leaf and earn money by building houses.
Every day during our lunch break, we would go and eat inside the air conditioned vans for one hour. Sam and Trellis would wait on the steps of the unfinished house for us to come back. Watching them wait outside in the heat made me feel like they really had no one else to be with, and nothing else to do. Seeing their downtrodden faces made me think it was up to me restore their faith and steer them in the right direction. Their gloomy auras made me frustrated with society, but also inspired me to want to help and change more.
Complete strangers uniting to help finish building a house in a week for a family who lost everything in a natural disaster, was the thought that inspired me the most. Few people stop to think about social and economic inequalities that surround them. Anyone who sees any kind of apparent inequity is contributing to it. When someone sees something they can do to make a small change; they should go forth and do it.
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