Monday
Mar012010

In the Community

“The excitement started to build on the first day as we drove to the location of the building site to meet the families that we would be helping,” Mr. Martin explained. “In this case we discovered that the families were living in very small one-room mud houses, without plumbing or any internal facilities and in some cases, garbage bags for doors and window covers. This really provided the motivation to work hard, even as the heat and occasional rain showers conspired to slow our progress.”

“The exhilarating part was seeing the new, twobedroom house take shape, and with the completion of the roof, we felt such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, knowing that ‘our’ family would soon be moving to a much better environment, including indoor facilities once the plumbing is completed. During the two-week period we bonded with the family as we worked side-by-side each day, so by the end of the two weeks we felt like a part of their family, and I think the feeling was mutual. He said just getting to the location was exhausting.

The journey began with a seven hour ‘red-eye’ flight from Miami to Rio de Janeiro, “followed by a three-hour flight on TAM (which had a crash just before we arrived) to Recife, then on to two small buses for an almost two-hour ride to the small town of Limoeiro in northern Brazil.” Mr. Martin said an ‘average’ work day at the Global Village began with an 8 a.m. arrival at the work site. “On this mission, we constructed four houses within a mile radius of each other, so teams of eight volunteers from Bermuda worked on each house.

We worked along with the families. At my site, that consisted of a father and three sons (15, 16 and 20 years old), along with two experienced builders who were friends of the father. The work day typically ended between 5 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. each day!” This is Mr. Martin’s second time travelling abroad for Habitat for Humanity. Although he said the Bermuda Overseas Missions charity was formed to make annual undertakings overseas, there had been such a tremendous response in Bermuda, there was actually a second mission being planned for 2007, with a group of ten people heading to India for three weeks in October. “If I had the vacation time and was independently wealthy, I would be one of them! However, some of us do have to work for a living, so I will consider next year’s mission instead,” he said. “My vote would be a mission to South Africa, and with some luck maybe we would meet Nelson Mandela, a person I greatly admire. But at the end of the day, this is about helping to build houses for families that need them, so I will consider going wherever the group decides!” 

 

Monday
Mar012010

Project Bolivia 2004

 Maria Luisa Ossia is a single mother with a 10 year old daughter – Alison – living with her mother and brother in a 2 roomed house in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

She is disabled – having lost a leg after a car accident in La Paz.

 

A group from The Church of Scotland congregation in Bermuda – augmented by others from the wider community spearheaded a project to work with Habitat for Humanity and decided to build a new home – a first home – for Maria Luise.

Maria Louise works as a sales assistant in a pharmacy and her regular annual income is about £450 (£700 p/a with extra working at night).

 

Maria Luisa is a Pentecostal Christian – whose faith he said was “very important to her in her daily life”.

ML “found Jesus” when she was in La Paz – and when she was there she attended church more regularly.   Roberto - one of her brothers – who worked with her on the house while we were there – has come to live in Cochabamba to encourage her in her faith and help her rediscover the faith she once had.

 

It was really encouraging to see – one day while we were building that MLs two sisters – daughter – nephew – and even her elderly mother came to the building site and helped to build!!

 

 “My first house will make me very happy” she said, “ because for the first time I will be able to live with my daughter as a family.”

 

 

 

This was not the only house we built on our visit –

Alberto Cartagana - his wife Maria Luisa Guzman - and their three children Marco Antonio (18), Jael (girl - 14) and Daniel (boy - 8) - live in a 2 bedroom house with bathroom and kitchen provided by his work.

They live on 1400 Bolivianos a month - $175 a month.

Alberto told me that he is an evangelical Christian - his whole family attends the Iglesia Pentecostal de Cochabamba church every week.

His parents he said had a deep faith and they prayed long and hard for a house for him and his family. Alberto - “The dream became a reality!”

 

His final words to me were -“God bless you and thank you for helping us!”

 

Habitat’s policy is that the land on which the house is built should be free of any mortgage.    The land on which their house was being built had been given to them by Maria Luisa’s father.

 

After they occupy their home they pay a mortgage to Habitat to repay the value of the constructed house ($3,600) of $20 a month for 12 years.

Alberto - “This is our first home.   We are very, very happy - immensely happy because I know it is OUR house.   My wife and children are so excited” 

When he said - “We are so happy you have come to build” Alberto became very emotional.

 

Above a drawing Daniel gave to Elena he wrote (in Spanish) “Dear Elena,

Thank you for your friendship and for building my house.  I am very happy to have a home.”

Jael - jumping up and down - “This is my bedroom!”

 

 

 

 

Comments by participants -

Giovanni - a larger-than-life Bermudian aged 19 said - “Bermudian young people should do something like this to make them realise what they have got.”

“It finally hit me that someone is going to be living in the house that I built - sleeping in the bedroom I have built!”

 

Vicki - a Scottish woman in her 40s who was brought up in a Church of Scotland children’s home and who was baptised (by total immersion) in the sea earlier this summer before joining the Church said - “The thanks we got from the families was something else.  They appreciated all we did for them.”

 

Mollie (30 something) - a recent regular attender of the Church said - “I am deeply touched by our development of warm, genuinely caring relationships with these Bolivian families and volunteers that are so vastly different from us.  We share our common Christian spirit, our desire to help, and our love.”

 

Gabriella (19) - “I never imagined I would experience anything like our trip to Bolivia.  It was a beautiful, interesting country with kind people and I am so thankful that we were able to experience it while building two houses for two needy families.   There is nothing like it.”

 

Elena (70+ - translator) “I feel so happy that I contribute - to make the world a better place.”

 

Tessa - (To David)

“There are no words to describe the amazing time I have experienced in Bolivia these past two weeks.  I have enjoyed every minute of this life changing and eye opening experience………… I would really love to join you again on any further projects.”

 

David (just over 50) – We came to Bolivia as a group of people from Bermuda with diverse backgrounds and religious beliefs.  One thing we truly had in common was a strong desire to eradicate sub-standard housing and give hope where there was none.  Our team worked diligently for two weeks despite lack of good tools and enduring conditions that none of us were used to.  At the end of that time we were proud to have helped to construct two family homes.  Words could not describe their appreciation of our efforts.

 

 

 

 

Visited an orphanage

 

We learned that 12 houses have been built for Habitat for H within the last 12 months – by teams from Ireland, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, USA