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Simply Smiles provides bright futures for children, families, and communities. The organization partners with populations in need to create physical and emotional environments where suffering is alleviated and from which local leaders can emerge.

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Naugatuck on the Reservation: Friday, May 16, 2014

Timothy Nurnberger

As I sit here on our last night pondering what to blog about, all I think about is the fact that I am TIRED. Tired of the cold wind sweeping in from the south, almost tipping me over when I try to fold the largest tarp known to man.

Tired of having to run out to the latrine in the day, but worse yet in the middle of the night for the sixth, yes sixth, time (because I drank twice my normal amount of water to keep hydrated.)

Tired of sleeping in a room with ten people snoring around me.

Tired of the sun burning my skin each day (despite the cold wind) as I work outside.

Tired of the mud from the rain, so deep that it could almost suck my shoe off, but a day later feels like cement under me as it dries in the sun

Tired of working in mud that is closer to clay than anything else.

Tired because I unloaded a 48,000 lb. load from a truck containing two new homes, with the help of only 9 other volunteers and the Simply Smiles staff.



And then I stop.

And reflect.

This was just a week for me.  For the residents of La Plant, it is every day.

Battling to eke an existence out of a land that was given to them because of how useless it was to the rest of the nation.  Every day they encounter these conditions in one from or another—impossibly extremes in the elements, lack of resources (sometimes plumbing or electricity), cramped living conditions when multiple generations live in small, government issued trailers or prefab homes, soil that refuses to grow anything without amazing amounts of toil.

So to say I am tired and to look forward to going back to may “real” life, seems somehow wrong.  This world in La Plant is real life, and I am grateful to have done some part to make this real life a better life.  A life that is not just about surviving but thriving— a life that isn’t just about making it through these conditions, but about finding joy and healthy pleasures in culture, family, community, and love despite these conditions.

And I all I can say to end this Blog, is that I am happy I am here, I am happy Simply Smiles is here, and I am glad that as I leave tomorrow, another “me” is on their way to continue the work I did here, but was started long before I came.

- Michelle Barnard