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The Heart-Breaking Reality of the Little Girl That Changed My Life

{Knock, knock, knock} I stood patiently on the door step. I glanced nervously up and down the street. 

I heard a muffled voice coming from inside the house.

"Come in!" The voice was low and harsh. Croaking. It was the voice of an old man. He sounded angry, annoyed, impatient.

The two bags of groceries were heavy. It was hot outside. I glanced nervously up and down the street again. Sweat was dripping down my forehead and behind my neck. A truck full of groceries was driving away into the distance. The faint noise of several other members of our group were making there way door to door in the distance, slowly filtering into the houses on the next street. 

I glanced in the opposite direction to meet the sound of the soft steps of a dog meandering down the street. He glanced at me, his interest piqued, before continuing to hobble off towards an empty field past the houses. His coat was matted and the nipples of an empty and malnourished stomach from a recent litter hung low, his ribs jutted out harshly through his coat of fur.

I knocked again.

"COME IN". The man was angry now. I was on my own. Standing at 5’3" and weighing 120 pounds I didn't feel overly comfortable opening the door and walking into the house by myself.

Most of the windows were boarded up and the few that weren't were covered in tin foil. Garbage littered the front lawn and was lost in weeds that had grown, over time, to reach the height of my waist. An old and rusting vehicle stood in the driveway, windows were smashed in, litter and empty cans were strewn across the seats.

I knocked one last time. I would leave the groceries on the door step if no one came to the door. As I bent down, I heard the soft pitter patter of light footsteps approaching the door. The sound didn't match the harsh, impatient voice of the man inside. 

The footsteps reach the other side of the door before pausing. There was a moment of silence, of hesitancy, and slowly the door creaked slightly open. I looked up, expecting to see a man towering over me, but no one was there. Instead, my eyes dropped and fell into the soft, frail and distrustful expression of a small girl. She couldn't have been older than three or four years old.

She had beautiful skin, jet-black hair strewn across her face and loosely tied into a braid. Her eyes were brown, deep, honest, vulnerable, yet guarded at the same time. 

"Hi there!" I tried to smile. "My name is Sarah. I'm with Love Has No Color." I did my best to sound upbeat. But the sad, lost and wary expression on her face left my heart feeling heavy and my voice got caught in my throat. I stammered. "I... I have a few bags of groceries here for you and your family, as well as a backpack of goodies for you if you'd like!” I looked down at the groceries, and then back into her sullen, sunken face. I was filled with an immediate sense of sadness and longing to do more, to give her everything I had. The two bags of groceries would provide food for her family for what, maybe two, three days tops?  

I felt an immediate wave of embarrassment and regret flood through me as a memory flashed through my mind of only three hours earlier when I was sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned vehicle, (complete with leather seats) complaining with my friend about having to fill up on our third straight cliff bar because we hadn't had a chance to stop for real food.  

Another memory; this time seven hours earlier when I grimaced while sipping the motel coffee, thinking to myself it would sure be nice to have an almond milk latte from the coffee shop down the street back home.

How ignorant was I?

How ignorant are we all to complain about lengthy traffic lights, a baby crying in a seat behind us on a flight or when our order at our favourite restaurant takes too long?

The little girl opened the door slightly more, still hesitant. My heart sank even deeper. My eyes had just fallen to the floor where I noticed her tiny bare feet were stepping in various piles of what I assumed were dog feces that covered the floor of the home's front entrance and trailed up the steps to the kitchen behind her. She didn't appear to even notice.  

She reached out a delicate hand and took the bags of groceries and the backpack. Her frail arms could barely hold them, but a quick flash of excitement moved swiftly across her face when she recognized the character's from the Disney movie Frozen on the her new pink and purple school bag. 

I was at a loss for words but tried to muster up the warmest smile I could. She glanced back up at me and the corners of her mouth slipped into a slight smile. She silently popped her head outside the house, long enough to glance nervously back and forth down the street before stepping back inside and closing the door before me. 

I backed away slowly, lost in a train of thought. Her lost, sad and hopeless expression I knew, would  be etched in my memory forever.

What is Love Has No Color?

Started in 2005 by my own coach and mentor Dr. Kevin Pallis, LHNC has been bringing love, joy, and hope to the kids living in poverty and instability at the Fort Peck reservation in Poplar, Montana. 

Twice a year, a group of health and wellness practitioners travel from all across North America to dedicate a few days of service to the people of Fort Peck; once during the summer for "Boot Camp" and once in December for "Christmas on the Rez". During this particular trip last August, a team of chiropractors adjusted over 1,000 children, adults and even inmates. An office with one of the finest Naturopaths in all of Canada was on site providing treatments. An office with one of the finest Naturopaths in all of Canada was on site providing treatments and I had the extreme honour and privilege to work with various students and inmates in a coaching capacity. 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies and 1,300 bags filled with high-quality, non-perishable groceries were delivered to the children and their families,

It may come as a surprise to some, but kids live in third world conditions right here in our country. Hideous living statistics on the Fort Peck Native American Reservation include crime, drugs, alcohol, child abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, poverty, disease, unemployment, and undernourishment that we would expect in turbulent places around the globe like Zimbabwe, Somalia, Gambia, etc.

As North-Americans, we don't have to look very far to find third world conditions; poverty is alive and well in our country, and nowhere is it more obvious than on Native American Reservations. Here are just a few statistics of life on the Res that very few people are even aware of:

  • Highest suicide rate in US (10x national average)
  • Life expectancy, disease, poverty of a third world country
  • Disease rates unrivaled in the US (diabetes is 4x national average)
  • 40% high school dropout rate
  • Crime, drugs and alcohol abuse that starts in middle school
  • 75% unemployment
  • Through programs like Boot Camp and Christmas on the Reservation, LHNC is ultimately about ending the hopelessness that the people on Reservations through health. Using chiropractic and holistic care, the supporters of LHNC want to change the paradigm to transform hopelessness to hopefulness.

In the 11 years of service, Love Has No Color has raised over $285,000, filled over 6,200 backpacks with school supplies and donated over 250,000 gifts to the Fort Peck reservation.

At its core is a common thread that unites all of us – do the right thing, especially for people who are oppressed.  It has a feeling of ‘rightfulness’, of honour, and people’s usual response is ‘how can I get involved’?  (See below!)

Get Involved:

This summer at our annual Boot Camp & Fun Day events we are adding a very special Day Camp for these kids. We will be having professional athletes, tribal elders, doctors, teachers, an Auschwitz survivor and many more coming together for one common cause: to awaken a sense of possibility and hope in the lives of these children. They will be immersed all day in activities ranging from basketball, street hockey, traditional tribal values, customs and language, fitness initiatives, and mindfulness training. Upon graduating at the end of the Day Camp, each child will be presented with a backpack full of school supplies. Also, each will receive a supply of high-quality, non-perishable food to take home to share with their families.

Many of these children rarely receive three meals a day and without high quality food, the ever present danger of extreme hopelessness tightens its grip. Having a summer camp experience like this will be a defining moment and swing the tide for many of these youths to make better life choices and decisions. Native Americans have been often referred to as America’s Forgotten People. This camp will celebrate, recognize and honour all those in attendance. There has never been a summer camp like this and with your help, you will be a part of making history.

If you'd like to help make a difference please consider donating today. All year long Love Has No Color, along with the help of many health and wellness practitioners, brings hope and health to the kids living in poverty and instability on the Fort Peck reservation. Use the donate button below to make a donation. We appreciate your support!

*** LHNC is a fully federal tax recognized 501(c)(3) movement that has no paid staff, no consultants, only volunteers.