With empty stomachs and full hearts
It started off like any other day, going about our daily business whether that was work or school but that evening we gathered as a group, both groups headed to Haiti in March combined. We checked our personal worries at the door, we stashed away our cell phones and iPods and we gathered to reflect, share and grow together. By 6:30pm the 2010 Starvathon was well underway, looking around the room the excitement and anxiety was visible, very few had any idea what the next 24 hours would hold for them.
With full stomachs we started off the evening with a favorite ice breaker – speed dating- participants are asked to reflect on the questions asked and share them with the person whom they sit across from… and then move on. The group is now well versed on each other’s favorite meal, future life plans and biggest fears.
With energy high and ice shattered we moved into a reflective activity, as groups we discussed what RAYJON means to us? Searching through thick stacks of magazines we were able to piece together words and images that summed up Rayjon’s impact on our local and global community, while also reflecting on the ironic nature of exercise- sorting through stacks of materialistic images to find MEANING.
This would set the tone for the remainder of the evening…. testimonials were shared and questions and curiosity was sparked. Discussion deepened after watching a documentary about the Dominican Republic – Haiti’s neighbor and their shared history of political instability, poor conditions and longstanding struggles. So many incredible questions were asked keeping us on our toes and challenging us to piece together the right words to encourage more questions and deeper understanding.
Just about the time we would be reaching for a nighttime snack or treat we moved into a reflective activity called World Map- using our own knowledge and estimates we reflected on the world’s population density, food consumption and wealth distribution laying out the visuals in a representation made out of rope, shoes, spoons and coins. When the actual statistics were shared our hunger pains were dulled as we were faced with the reality of our world’s disparities. Reactions shared were “shocked” “disgusted” “saddened” , we discussed how the world has gotten this way, talking about personal actions to reverse the damage done and how this could relate to our upcoming trip to Haiti. Just as these statistics are more impactful when they are laid out in front of us, Haiti’s struggles, concerns and beauties will be just as impactful when we see it firsthand- 2011 Rayjon Awareness Trip’s to Central and North Haiti.
Wrapping up the evening we went to bed with a grumble in a stomachs, left to reflect on how that feeling would intensify and what that means for our brothers and sisters around the world.
Bright eyed and eager (well most of us) we started the day with some energizers to get the blood flowing, “Ahhhhhh” is a game new to many of us- although awkward at first it quickly turned into a room full of laughs.
Then it was time to cross the river of alligators – a team builder of course! There were 64 “rocks”; however some were not rocks at all, but instead alligator backs that look strikingly similar. Rocks are SAFE to walk on, alligators are SNAP – all 35 participants had to work together to find the one and only safe route across the river before it got dark. They were off to a slow and quiet start but soon the conversation was bubbling, opinions were shared and lessons were learned. The group did an incredible job of working together, sharing encouragement and made it across the river with 30 seconds to spare. Although it is just a first step in team building, it is most definitely a bright step and of course travelling together and sharing the experiences in Haiti will be the best team builder of all.
Although we were distracted with the hype and excitement of the morning’s activities our bodies soon began to remind us that we were lacking a very important element- FOOD! Some of us grew cold, some a little shaky but miraculously we heard NO complaints.
The afternoon was our time to shine; we set 35 participants loose on the community half of the group raked the abundant leaves at the Brother’s home- 100+ bags in less than 3 hours with no breaks or complaints- earning a $500 donation for Rayjon for their efforts and positive attitude. And the other half decorated Fairwinds for the holidays, they shared a little holiday cheer with a couple songs and bright smiles. Both groups came back with such positive energy and amazing stories to share, I think for a couple hours we forgot that we were hungry but instead were filled with the satisfaction of giving back to our local community as we prepared to give back to our global community as well.
Another successful Starvathon wrapped up with incredible highlights shared by the group and well wishes to all those who contributed to making the event a success!
In light of the current situation in Haiti (cholera, elections, earthquake and hurricane), it was comforting to be surrounded by so many passionate and compassionate people, those who have come to know and love Haiti and those who are so eager to do the same.
We are the future of Rayjon, and our future is bright.
Rayjon Youth Committee