Nikki and Frankel and Mother Theresa's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Becoming Last welcomes Nikki!
Last week I got an email from a fellow blogger, Matt, asking me to guest blog on his own blog, Becoming Last. Also eager to communicate with other like-minded bloggers, and to share my experiences, of course I agreed. Maybe I should start this guest post by introducing myself… My name is Nikki Cochrane, and I am a 20 year old student in my last year of the cultural anthropology program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My passion in life is one thing, and it seems to consume my every thought; humanitarian work. Throughout most of teenage and adult life I have volunteered and sponsored children, but I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life the summer after my grade 12 year when I first went to the Dominican Republic. I went with an organization called Hero Holiday (www.heroholiday.com); working in and around Sosua… building schools, helping in an orphanage for handicapped children, and learning just a little bit about the Dominican and Haitian people with whom I was working. When I got home, I cried for a week. I couldn’t get the kids’ faces out of my head, and every time I opened my fridge and saw food (some that wouldn’t even be eaten), I was overcome with a sense of guilt. I knew I had to do more. The following summer I returned to the DR again with Hero Holiday, this time for a month. Every day of the month brought moments and experiences that even further changed me and my perceptions on life. The following February sent me to Ethiopia, Africa. I worked in an orphanage for HIV+ children, was able to meet my World Vision sponsor child, Tsehay, and taught English classes to children who were very eager to learn. I ate injera and dora wat for the first time and learned how to maneuver through a bustling African market. This past summer, I spent two months in the Dominican Republic again; the place I call my second home! I was able to spend a few days in its neighboring country as well, Haiti, working mostly in a hospital for children, most of whom are dying or very sick from malnutrition. The first time I walked into the hospital I was so overcome with emotion that I had to step back out, after seeing a 6 year old, Frankel, so skinny and lethargic he could barely lift his head. I was shocked when I heard him speak, for he was so tiny he looked like he would be too young even to know how to talk. I later learned he was 6 years old… I hugged him very tightly after that and hoped he could feel my love.
I am not sure exactly what the future is going to bring for me, but I know there are going to be big changes in my life. I will be heading back to the DR for 2 weeks over Christmas, and then moving there in May when I am done University. My life has been changed in so many ways because of this work, but it is not without its struggles. There are some parts of my life where I have to make sacrifices, and although it is all worth it, it is difficult at times. Money is one of those sacrifices, and it leads me to pinching every penny just to afford to live when I am in the DR. I have drifted apart from some friends, who don’t understand the way I feel about life now. It has even caused some conflicts with my family members, who are hesitant about seeing me leave. But when I look at the big picture, I couldn’t be happier. I know that with every sacrifice I make, there is a bigger purpose behind it. Something much bigger than just me, and my own little Canadian bubble. There is much more to the world than many people think, and I believe it is up to each of us to do our part in making the lives of those struggling a little easier… a little happier.
If you want to read more about my work, you can check out my blog at www.heroholiday07.blogspot.com I also have a fundraising blog, www.madebynikki.blogspot.com where I design blogspot blogs to raise money for my travel and living expenses.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! I hope that it will inspire you to think twice the next time you spend $10 at McDonalds, or your toonie on a coffee. There are so many needs in the world; children that need to be fed, that need to go to school, that need uniforms, clothes, shoes, clean water, education… YOU can make a difference, even if it is in just ONE child’s life. I will finish by leaving you with my favorite story. It has inspired me and is something that I find myself reading during the times when I feel unsure…
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”