Building in Trinidad: Day 4

 In Global Impact

The team pose for a photo on the build site

Workday #1 is well underway for the group of 13 volunteers working on an international build with Habitat for Humanity in Trinidad and Tobago.  So far, we have had a travel day on Friday, and Saturday began with a hike, a mud volcano experience, then another hike to the ocean before returning to our bus. Sunday included a trip to see The International Steel Band Foundation and then a trip to Maracas beach. I’ll tell you the mud volcano exceeded expectations and the Steel Band was phenomenal. It was here I first really experienced the Trini pride!

 After arriving a day early to explore and learn about the culture, many of our family and friends may be thinking we traveled to T&T for a fun vacation. The truth is our group ranges from a junior in high school to retirees.  We work in a variety of professions ranging from real estate, IT, banking, retail, & others. Not one of us work in the trades or is very experienced at construction. Sunday night, people were beginning to reveal the worries about Workday #1. By now we were all expecting to be digging; doing lots of digging–and by the sore muscles from the hiking there may be just a little concern or worry about being able to physically do the work.

After a long bus ride, we arrived at the job site. The bus grew noticeably quiet as the group looked out the window. I’m sure a few of us were even praying. A few minutes passed before one of our group leaders announced, “this is not the site”. There was immediate and obvious relief as we could see there was zero site prep work done and our worst digging nightmare was just avoided.  We then met our site supervisor Christian, followed by introductions and a morning circle. We then travelled a few minutes to our work site.

The work site is a piece of property with very little excavation done the prior day. We sorted out some tools and broke into a couple of groups and began to work. Digging, bending rebar, tying rebar, measuring, leveling, carrying and other basic duties. A big challenge is trying to interpret what Christian wants. He may say one thing, but it is heard by 8 people and communicated 12 different ways. We then tackle the afternoon and by now people are working mostly harmoniously, and before we know it it is time to clean up. Now we get the tools and other gear ready for workday #2.

I mostly enjoyed watching the homeowner Maria.

Maria is sitting on this plot of basically bare land as the work buzzes around her. She is sitting in her future back yard. I imagine her and her family living there when the house is complete, doing all the things families do on their property. I am proud of the volunteers who traveled to this place to help in any way they can, and as a group we didn’t do too bad. I am especially happy to know that Maria will have a home and she has as much involvement or even more than most homeowners. After all Habitat is not a handout, but a hand up.

Marilyn and Lorraine use tin snips to cut chicken wire