Building in Nicaragua: Day 5

Building in Nicaragua: Day 5

Oh, the pressure or trying to finish the week out and follow the earlier posts!  This is my first trip, so everything was new to me. The earlier posts give a good idea of the work – lots of shoveling, hauling, mixing, sifting, tamping, brick/dirt/rock/sand pile moving, rebar and masonry work and general back-breaking tasks.  Was it hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Definitely! We wrapped up the week on Friday with a “concrete morning”, making enough to cover the floor, then dedicated the home with Dona Silvana and family, followed by a short celebration for the neighborhood complete with games and a pinata.  Here are a few reflections on the work and project from a “newbie.”

The support we received all week from Habitat was absolutely awesome.  Our on-site coordinator Humberto (aka Teddy Berto) made sure we were at the right place at the right time, that we all knew what jobs needed to be done and worked as hard as we did on the home.  The food provided was amazing and I’m sure I’ve gained 10 pounds. Our driver, Nelson, is second to none and got us everywhere we needed to be, played with the kids on site, was our celebration MC…and he has some mad parallel parking skills!

At our orientation, we were told that although Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the living conditions that we would see during our work would be nothing like we are used to, that we shouldn’t pity or feel sorry the families we are serving.  They are a humble, family-oriented and caring culture and have a slower pace of life – “Nica time.” The children are like any other kids – they loved playing with the toys that we brought and learning new games. They come home from school looking just like our kids in clean uniforms and nice backpacks.  The difference is, they come home to a very crowded, very small home with dirt floors, rusting metal walls and roofs, outdoor cooking (wood fires), outdoor sinks (no hot water) and latrines. This is their way of life and these kids don’t know anything different. The home that we helped build gives the family a solid structure and a sanitary bathroom area – things that we take for granted.   After the dedication, Dona Silvana gave us a handwritten letter and Patti translated it for us on the ride back to the hotel. She thanked us over and over, saying how this home is a miracle, how the home would help her children and grandchildren have a better life and how we were a blessing to her and her family. There wasn’t a dry eye on the bus.

I know that this week has been a huge blessing in my life.  On the back of the shirts we received are a number of words and phrases – one being “one starfish at a time.”  This trip was my starfish moment. Like so many things in life, if you wait for the perfect time to do a trip like this, you will never do it.  I’m thankful that I came this year to help in a small way and received so much more than I gave.

(Blog written by Barb Scoles) 

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