“Mas? No Mas?” I ask Oscar as I point to a pile of rebar on the ground next to the footer my new friend Mauricio just finished digging. I’m realizing now that I should have put more time into learning basic phrases of Spanish before leaving for our trip. It’s day three of work on the Habitat for Humanity house in El Salvador. Our hosts Adriana and Luis were with us every step of the way, translating our English to Spanish to communicate with the masons and the homeowners, but I just wanted to communicate with Oscar on my own, person to person, without help.
When we arrived at the work site on Monday, it was just a plain dirt lot. By Wednesday, the footers had been dug, the dirt moved away, rebar supports and structures bent and assembled, and the first batches of concrete mixed and poured in the footers. All this was done with shovels, wheelbarrows, wire snips, and Oscar’s ingenuity as the mason overseeing the build. There were just over 10 of us working on the home including the mason overseeing the build, Oscar, two of his helpers, 6 volunteers from Indianapolis, and our hosts Adriana and Luis.
The neighbor Veronica is also a Habitat homeowner! She has been in her home for 15 years and will pay it off this month! Through her hard work she has been able to support her family with the help of Habitat and now she is able to support her brother, Osmil as he begins his journey to homeownership not just as a sister, but as a neighbor.
Veronica and Osmil’s families hosted us in their neighborhood and homes so wonderfully, making sure we had cold drinks and snacks in the hot and humid Central American weather. Their warmth and welcome paired with the comradery of our volunteer team made the worksite a delight amongst the concrete and rebar.
By Friday, at the end of our time at Osmil’s home, we had gone from a flat dirt lot to the beginning of the foundation and a rebar structure that was almost ready to start laying the brick walls. This was our good hard work with much more work to do.
Through this trip, I have been reminded that many times, the things in life worth doing can’t be completed in a week, or a month, or even in a few years. This past week we started a home that will take weeks more to finish. Osmil and his family are in the middle of their journey to homeownership that will take years to complete. Habitat for Humanity of El Salvador will walk with 400 families nationwide starting their journey to homeownership this year. Here in the Greater Indy area, Habitat will link arms with 28 new homeowners this year that will join the over 500 new homeowners they have journeyed with since they first broke ground 30 years ago.
So, whether it is me learning more Spanish for the next time I’m in El Salvador with Habitat, partnering with Greater Indy Habitat in a deeper way, or being a better neighbor; may we continue to contribute to the good and hard work happening around us. May we be good neighbors in this Global Village.