Name: Brenda Gomez Larios
From: Woodburn, Oregon
Grade: Senior (12)
School: Woodburn High School (WeBSS)
Six passengers, five suitcases, four different airports, three connecting flights, two countries and one journey that changed my life forever. Three years prior I was living in a nightmare; I suffered from major depression. It was a monster that followed me wherever I went and it lived inside me; there was no escaping it. I was in desperate need to escape my current reality. I was willing to do anything. I fought daily through my depression for my parents; they were my motivation.
I needed to change for my family; I couldn’t give up on them so easily. There had to be more to life than this nightmare.
There I was, 3,653 miles from home in a foreign country without a clue what I was getting myself into. I landed in Honduras; a place where every corner of a street is a landfill and the roads are swarms of ants. This was my home for the next three months. I left everything behind; family, friends, and my education. I arrived at an orphanage, filled with 300 beautiful souls who would wake me from my nightmare.
We entered the church at the orphanage, and 300 unfriendly faces turned to stare at me. I immediately felt the blood from my face melt down my spine as we sat down on the rough green stairs. My anxiety took over my feelings; I felt like running away from all the chaos and somehow go home into my parents arms, but there I was, asking myself what I got myself into.
Although we ate beans and rice everyday, I didn’t care. I loved walking into a room and having kids run and climb onto me as if I was a jungle gym. I loved helping people like Michelle; her dad killed her mother and sold all of her siblings. I loved their Honduran accents, and Santos’ irresistible smile.I loved seeing how little everyone cared about how they looked and the holes in their shoes. I loved how little I thought they had but there lives had so much more than I. I love each and every moment.
About hundreds of children, left without parents, who were seeking support and help, helped me change my perspective on the reality of life. Honduras was where I found myself and most importantly I found myself with a hunger to push myself to accomplish my dream; becoming a teacher. The satisfaction left me intrigued to strive and be what I feel God has always wanted me to be.
After this experience of simplicity and complete happiness, I needed to make a difference. My only goal before I leave this earth is to make it a little bit better than it was when I first got there.
Knowing in my heart that the simplest acts of kindness can be embedded in the lives of children who deserve the love I’ve felt and have felt again at this point in my life.