This I Believe

Alexis - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on November 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that everyone has the ability to make a difference in the world. Whether you’re a teenager, a grandparent, or a child, the world has opportunities waiting. Even those with emotional struggles of their own have something to offer.

Forty-two family members and friends of mine traveled to Juarez, Mexico to build two homes for needy families. Little did I know that my physical abilities would be put to the test. You see, I was responsible for helping my uncle drywall the entire interior walls and ceiling of one of the houses. After four ten-hour days and one completed house, I realized the difference I had made for the family who would be living there.

My grandfather was very excited to come on this trip, and he amazed everyone with his determination and endurance. At seventy-six years old, he was the oldest man to ever build a house with the organization, Casas por Christo. I personally expected my Grandpa to sit back and watch for most of the day, but he was just as busy as the rest of us. He stuccoed, framed, and helped roof the house, all the while refusing to take a break. Thinking back on this, I realized that age doesn’t matter, anyone can make a difference in the world with willingness and determination.

Another person that helped me realize that we can all make a difference was my neighbor, Alex. Although he was only eight years old, he still had as big of an impact on the Juarez families as I did. Sure, he wasn’t able to physically complete as much work as the rest of us, but he helped in different ways. Alex brought soccer balls down to Juarez to give to the other children. When he wasn’t helping build the house, he would get to know the boys by playing soccer and talking with them, thus building relationships with the families. This goes to show that even young children can make a difference, simply by being friendly.

One of the families that came along on the trip with us was struggling emotionally. The mother had recently divorced her drug-addicted husband. While she and her children were devastated, they chose to come to Mexico and help make a difference for someone else. How emotionally strong they were to ignore what was happening in their family and instead focus on sharing their time and talent with those who were less fortunate. This family showed me that it’s possible to put emotional pain aside and still make a difference. In fact, I think this family even found strength in helping others.

All of us have limitations, whether they’re physical, age-related, or emotional. Nevertheless, all of us also have the ability to make a difference in the world. This I believe.