Help­ing oth­ers ‘Live Dif­fer­ent’

Build­ing homes in Do­mini­can Repub­lic got Janet Hynes through tough times

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA

Hav­ing re­cently re­turned from a trip to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic where she led a team of 11 women build­ing a new home for peo­ple who needed it, Janet Hynes feels a mix­ture of emo­tions.

A man­ager at the Stone Jug in Car­bon­ear, Janet was pleased with the work they did giv­ing a fam­ily a home that will with­stand flood­ing. How­ever, her heart is heavy with the news that Ben­jamin Cole Brown, the pro­gram man­ager for Live Dif­fer­ent in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, is miss­ing and pre­sumed dead fol­low­ing an air­plane crash off the coun­try’s north coast last month.

“It’s very rough for me right now,” Janet said. “He’s one of the guys who spoke to me when I left in April 2013 and said, ‘You’ll be fine, and you will be back.’”

Get­ting in­volved with the Cana­dian char­ity hap­pened by ac­ci­dent. A per­son mis­tak­enly called her home in 2012 on be­half of Live Dif­fer­ent at a time when Janet had just lost her fa­ther and a brother.

“I felt I had no pur­pose any­more,” she said.

Janet had trav­elled many times to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic over the years and would of­ten take items with her to hand out (some­thing she no longer does, as such ges­tures can have un­ex­pected conse- quences for the lo­cal econ­omy). She looked up Live Dif­fer­ent on­line while tak­ing the phone call and by the end of it had agreed to take part in a house build.

Her first trip in 2013 was a rough one. She found it emo­tion­ally up­set­ting to see the lengths peo­ple would go just to eat, watch­ing dis­placed Haitians scrounge through a garbage dump and fight over fruit that had in­sects crawl­ing all over it.

“It’s still very hard to talk about,” she said. “I don’t think it will ever leave me.”

Her re­luc­tance to re­turn the next year faded fol­low­ing a chat she had with Ben­jamin Brown.

“He said, ‘You’ll come back. You’ll bring peo­ple, be­cause this has af­fected you.’”

Those words proved to be right.

“If ev­ery­one that went there felt the way I did, then no­body would ever go back and noth­ing would ever be done,” she said. “So as I came home and thought about it, I de­cided maybe this was the pur­pose again. Now this is my hol­i­day ev­ery year, so to speak.”

Since she first started trav- elling to Au­gas Ne­gras, Janet has no­ticed a lot of change in the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to liv­ing con­di­tions. A few North Amer­i­can com­pa­nies spon­sored builds in the area too, which has con­trib­uted to im­prove­ments in Au­gas Ne­gras.

Mould build-up in flooded homes is known to cause ill­ness in the com­mu­nity. Teams like Janet’s — which goes by the name Mak­ing More Change — build homes raised from the ground with a con­crete foun­da­tion.

With 2017 be­ing her fifth year or­ga­niz­ing a trip with Live Dif­fer­ent, Janet hopes to lead her big­gest group yet to the Caribbean na­tion. She said there’s al­ready been a few peo­ple in the Car­bon­ear area who’ve ex­pressed an in­ter­est in get­ting in­volved.

“The more you have, the more you build,” she said. Mak­ing More Change will re­turn to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic next Oc­to­ber. We­blink: www. lived­if­fer­ent.com

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Janet Hynes, far rights, works on the walls of a new du­plex her team Mak­ing More Change built in Au­gas Ne­gras, Do­mini­can Repub­lic last month.

Car­men, one of the women who will live in a new home Janet Hynes helped build, waves a New­found­land and Labrador flag.

Eleven women were part of the team Mak­ing More Change that trav­elled to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic last month to build a new home.

The new house in Au­gas Ne­gras, Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

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