Mexico August 1 – 10
August 4, 2010We hit the job site earlier than yesterday and possibly with more energy, or maybe it was just confidence. After greeting the family with the usual “Buenos dias,” we started swinging hammers. The morning consisted of finishing walls and playing with the always energetic children of the household and neighborhood. If anything, Hero Holiday participants should learn one word and one word only – capuchi (ka-poo-chee). It means piggyback, and believe me – los ninos (the children) NEVER get tired of those, and do not think we should either! Playing with the children and hearing their genuine laughter and seeing their smiles, makes for many precious moments that will stay in our memories for a very long time. The mother and her sister made us lunch again, and once again, it was incredible. We know it isn’t easy for her to supply eighteen hungry workers with lunch. The Coca Cola and feast most likely cost the mother a few days’ salary. Feeding us is her way of giving back, and it truly demonstrates how much our work is appreciated and how thankful they are for our presence. After our tummies were overly filled, we came to the moment of building we were all waiting for. After one and a half days of work, we stood the house up. Each wall fit into place, and on the concrete pad where two days ago there was nothing, now stands a blue house. It is more than a house to the family. It is a weight lifted from their shoulders and a dream transforming into reality. I’ll never forget the mother’s smiling face when her life changed, wall by wall.
The Hero Holiday experience is incredible. One minute we are in the midst of a construction site, hammering nails and cutting lumber, but then during a water break, not twenty meters away you find yourself surrounded by muchos ninos (many kids). They all are so eager to laugh, smile, hug, and play. It’s incredible that people with so little are so happy.
August 5, 2010
Today we drove up to the job site and pride and happiness swelled within all of us as we laid eyes on the structure that we built. The family officially acquired a roof over their heads today. Sweat, dust, and tar mixed together equals many dirty volunteers but one fantastic roof. Finishing the roof wasn’t the only thing accomplished, as the inside of the house was developing nicely. The Mexican children, whether from the family or from nearby houses, loved to get hands on experience when it came to painting. They probably got more paint in their hair and on their face than on the walls! But they loved every minute of it, and we loved working alongside them. Lunch was once again graciously provided by our family, and it appeared this would be a continuing trend during our working week. No complaints here! Today ended a little bit early; the volunteers were taken to a beautiful beach where we splashed in the waves, took photo upon photo, and managed to get sand everywhere!
August 6, 2010
Today was a day of many jobs, as there was much to finish before dedication tomorrow. As Andrew listed off everything that needed to be completed, we all cringed as it seemed we would be there until dark. However, everyone put in extra effort and we accomplished our tasks not only before sundown, but with smiles on our faces. We all put in some time digging the bano, and it appeared that we would dig right through Earth’s core to the other side. One of the most strenuous jobs was putting up the 6 foot tall wind fence, which involved digging two foot holes, hand mixing cement, and lining up the posts and siding properly. To say the least, it wasn’t easy. At the end of the day, it stood tall and mostly straight and did a fine job of blocking the relentless dust for the family. This was an extra project that our entire team donated money toward. Because of the open area this family lives in, dust is constantly getting blown in their yard, and consequently, coating everything including them.
August 7, 2010
It is amazing that a house can be built in four days. It is equally amazing that a family we knew for such a short time could steal our hearts and change our perspective on the way we live. This family will be in our hearts and memories for the rest of our lives, and we will never be the same because of them. Each participant grew extraordinary amounts this week; we expanded our hearts and reached out to families in desperate need. We gained so much awareness of the reality that is life for the majority of people living in the world. Not everyone has access to health care, clean water, and three meals a day. Most people struggle to meet even the most basic needs, and this is the reality we acknowledged this week. Today was house dedication day. The furniture, food, clothes, bedding, and toys were brought to both sites and organized in each house. For the first time in their lives, these two families had a sturdy roof and four walls to protect them. I cannot imagine how it felt for them to climb into their new beds and fall asleep with next to no worries, knowing the next day, and the days after that would feel like Christmas morning, every morning. At dedication, we stood in a half circle of heroes. We got to express our feelings and gratitude with the help of Tony, our interpreter. Despite the language barrier, it was obvious that our true feelings and intentions were understood by the family, as happy tears were shed by everyone. The atmosphere was thick with emotion as the keys were given to the family and they walked into their new house for the first time, greeted by their new belongings.
Shortly, the build team followed the family into the house. We all received many thanks and a loving embrace from the mother and her sister, accompanied by words many of us did not understand. However, the message of love and gratitude can be understood in every language. After things settled down, the family served everyone a heaping bowl of (pasole?). She made us a delicious meal that is customarily served at Christmas; it is a meal of celebration. We gave our thanks and said our sad goodbyes, but not before a group picture and exchange of many loving words. Saying goodbye was by far the hardest part, and we will never forget the family waving to us and blowing kisses as we drove away.
~ Kolby and Kyle