A Hug Costs Nothing

A Look Back at X-Term: Fall Into Service


Photograph by S Vaygensberg

In November over 30 MCDS students volunteered their time with children and teens in Honduras making friends that will last a lifetime.

As we begin to think about our upcoming X-Term plans for next month, reporter Sasha Vaygensberg looks back on her Fall experience serving others in Honduras.

Day 1: We just arrived in Honduras and are on our way to Nuevo Paraíso. The “tía” of the compound pleasantly greeted us at the airport, with happiness and content. She represented this sort of willingness to accept anyone and happiness. On the other hand, you step outside and drive down walls of graffiti, one saying “Libertad es menos por la mendiga,” which translates to “Liberty is less for the beggar.” This has already opened my eyes to a different world and made me realize how lucky I am to have grown up in freedom. There is absolute corruption and demand for the people. There is a constant need, yet no one is there to help…

7:30pm. We have arrived at Nuevo Paraíso with a sweet “Welcome Home Miami” sign. I already love it here. Everyone is so welcoming and wants to be your friend. I can’t wait for the days to come. 

Day 2: It has been a long, eventful day in Nuevo Paraíso. Shortly after breakfast, Tía Mae gave us a tour around the complex including the school, hospital, and playground. We then began our project of paving roads and painting homes. After a long while of hard work/labor, we finally had the opportunity to play with the children. It is fascinating to see their creativity and ingenuity to have a better and more interesting life. From creating DIY games to playing soccer with a metal poll as a goal and crocs instead of cleats, these kids create such an interesting way to live. I am in awe looking into these kids eyes, while they grab your hand and call you “amiga.” They truly have so much life within them. The difference in culture is so widespread. We are so used to the phrase “don’t talk to strangers” while these children greet anyone with a hug. The children act like older siblings and watch over each other. Day to day I have adapted more to their culture and realized how much I take for granted. I can’t wait to see what’s to come and what I will learn for the rest of our trip. 

Working on roads and with cement.

Day 3: Today I worked on paving roads and playing soccer with the older children. Let me tell you: three hours of mixing gravel, sand, water, and more to make cement and then smoothen out the cement before it dries in the hot weather is NOT easy. Taking wheelbarrows filled with heavy cement to the opposite side to lay it down on the pathway is indeed hard work. However, I managed to do it and it was 100% worth my time. After working on fixing the village, I went to speak and play soccer with the older kids. The smaller children are always given the most attention just because they are “so cute and lovable.” I feel as though the older children don’t get enough attention as they are responsible enough to be on their own and take care of themselves. Given, I thought it was a great idea to dedicate my time playing with them. Getting attacked by red ants and one great game later, it was time to say goodbye for the night. Today was a very eventful day and this ‘work’ is starting to grow on me…

The reporter and her wheelbarrow of cement.

Day 4: Day by day I’ve started to appreciate more. Setting up the roads to mixing materials to then laying out the cement has been a journey: a journey that has taught me so much. It’s so crazy to me that tomorrow is our last day to make a difference. To build simple, but necessary additions. To leave our mark in Nuevo Paraíso. These past four days have seemed to fly by in  a blink of an eye and to know that I won’t be back here for a while makes me sad. These experiences don’t make me feel bad or regret anything I do and have, but instead, make me open up my eyes and see a whole new way of a lifestyle.

Day 5: We have driven away and said our final goodbyes to our friends forever. The memories we shared and laughs we had will live on forever. I can definitely say that I want to come back to Nuevo Paraíso and visit my friends that will be so happy to see me return. This trip has taught me SO much; there are no words to describe it. This is one of those “you had to be there” moments to feel the full experience and I do hope that everyone can have one of those moments some time in their life. 

If there is one thing I’d like you to take away from this it’s this:  A hug costs nothing. All these kids want are hugs. They want to hold your hand and never let go. They want your love. Please, please appreciate every second of your life and no matter how easy it can be to take things for granted, always think about how lucky you are. Thank your friends, thank your parents and thank yourself for the life you have.