Shana Lewis, volunteer coordinator, takes you day by day through our recent Global Village trip to El Salvador.
During our ride to the hostel, I was in awe of the landscape. The mountains and volcanoes, the sugar cane fields and the clear skies. It’s beautiful here. People sell fruit from stands on the side of the road. There are buses and trucks that transport people back and forth and a lot of people walking with baskets. The homes outside of the town are set up kind of like neighborhoods. There are several concrete homes surrounded by fences. In San Vicente the houses are right beside each other. Other than the signs you can’t tell the shops from the houses.
After a trip to the lagoon, we came back to the hostel for lunch and to meet the family. A husband and wife (Jaime and Cindy) and their three children! Cindy is due with their fourth child on Tuesday! Jamie will be working with us on site this week. They were a little shy at first but started to warm up during lunch…
Each time we go someplace, I catch myself being surprised at the similarities. People are nice when we pass by, their children smile and wave at us, people take selfies together and crack jokes. I also look at the homes and notice the differences. Built with concrete, usually gated, some have electric/barbed wire on the roof, the floors are tiled throughout the house instead of carpet, and there is very little grass. But I’m also challenging myself to see the similarities. AC in the bedrooms, a kitchen area for making meals, a solid structure that protects from the elements, running water, and grocery stores and ice cream shops in town.
Our first day on the job site was a good one! The home we are working on is almost done. We spent the day working on the floor of the house by breaking up chunks of concrete, adding dirt, spreading it out and tamping it flat. Also, Cindy had her baby today and Jaime was able to go see her at lunch time! We are all very excited for them. Right now they are renting a room but in a few weeks they will be homeowners!
I’m so excited for Estela (also a Greater Indy Habitat homebuyer) to build her home with us. I am impressed that she is helping another family in her home country with the same need: decent, affordable housing. I feel like the mission has come full circle and it’s only Monday.
Another day of laying dirt in the kitchen and living room floor. We moved at least 180 5-gallon buckets of dirt today. Maybe now we are done in these rooms! We did have some great team work and a lot of laughs on site today. Jaime showed us pictures of his newborn. She has a lot of hair! He didn’t know the weight but knows she is healthy.
I’ve realized today that we all have similar aspirations. I’ve also realized that people don’t need lavish, 6-bedroom homes to be happy and comfortable. While we are addressing a very real need, these homes provide the basics and are comfortable. There are 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and washroom, a kitchen, and a living room. The floor will be tiled and they will have a steel roof over their heads…The homeowner is even planting trees on the property, which I think is awesome! I’ve been humbled by this trip and am grateful for the comforts I have back home.
We worked on adding another layer of block around the house for the walls. I was terrible at filling in the gaps so I mostly ran mortar back and forth to everyone on the scaffolding. It was a much easier day than the rest of the week since we weren’t shoveling dirt and sand.
Today was our last day on the work site and it was bittersweet for me. I’m happy that we got so much accomplished. We sped up the build by 2.5 weeks in 5 days. I’m happy that we will get to relax tomorrow and I’m happy that I will be home soon. I’m also sad that we won’t pile into the van to go to the work site again. I’m sad that we won’t be here to finish the house and that we are leaving such a beautiful country. I will be making the most of our last full day tomorrow.
At dinner, our team gathered around the table one last time before going home. We ate, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company. The restaurant at the resort had karaoke after dinner and the girls sang several songs while the rest of us cheered them on. It was such a nice day of relaxation after a week of such hard work. These people who were strangers one week ago are now friends who take care of each other. It’s amazing how serving others can bring people together.