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Archive for March, 2011

14 March | Back Home

14 Mar , 2011

Wow!  What a whirlwind week in Honduras.

Friday was full of festivities on our worksites in El Rosario.  We spent the morning laying several more courses of block on the homes we started.  At noon, the nearby school, Escuela de Juan Pablo II, fixed a bountiful lunch for us and entertained us with their singers, dancers, and school band.  We had a dedication ceremony to celebrate the week and then we joined the local community and our skilled masons in a game of futbol.  I think I’ll stick to basketball, thank  you.

Saturday we traveled to the town of Copan Ruinas and were able to visit the 1,300 year old Mayan ruins there.  Several of us took an opportunity to visit a remote Chorti Indian village called La Pintada–a 30 minute hike from the nearest dirt road.

La Pintada makes El Rosario seem affluent.  It is a village of about 200 people living in mud huts with thatch roofs.  The children were all barefoot.  The women in the village make corn husk dolls and do some weaving and then send the children down to Copan Ruinas to sell them.  This is their only means of subsistence.

Chagas disease is rampant in the village.  The disease is caused by the insects that live in the mud and thatch that come out at night and lay eggs on the sleeping children’s lips.  When the children ingest the eggs the disease takes hold and is often fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control calls Chagas a Neglected Infection of Poverty (NIP) because it flourishes solely due to poverty housing conditions.  Fortunately, Habitat for Humanity has begun replacing some of the thatch roofs with metal and is covering the mud with stucco.   A simple solution for sure, but it remains out of reach for many villagers who struggle daily just to provide food to eat.

I feel blessed to have been able to spend some time in Honduras this past week seeing and touching first hand what Habitat Wake’s tithe support is accomplishing in the midst of extreme poverty.  The warmness and gratitude of the Hondurans we worked with will stay with me forever.  Keep an eye out for updates on future travel opportunities to work with Habitat in Honduras.

10 March 2011 | Casas y paletas

11 Mar , 2011

Today on our worksite we began to see block walls going up and much quicker than I thought. The local masons even let us lay most of the block. I wasn’t expecting that. We learned today that the husband of our homeowner family would be able to attend our end of the week celebration tomorrow (Friday). He works in San Pedro Sula, the largest nearby city, in a chicken processing facility and is often away from home for two weeks at a time. Enma is a stay-at-home mom to their 3 year old daughter.

We visited another orphanage this afternoon that houses young girls ages 4-18. We played a very long game of basketball with some of the older girls. We took a walk through the village to a production bakery that makes snack items to sell to local small “pulperias” or small corner shops. On the walk we got to see a number of completed Habitat homes, which was good since we won’t see the finished products of the homes on which we are working.

We may be far from the conveniences of our everyday U.S. lives, but for local LocoPops fans, we have a small “paleta” shop right next to our hotel. Very good and half the price in Raleigh. My favorite is mora.

9 March 2011 | El Rosario

10 Mar , 2011

Our work continues on the home in the El Rosario village outside Santa Rosa here in Honduras. Enma and her daughter have been active participants. Her daughter has joined some of our team in games and coloring book activities and Enma has joined in helping to build. Most in the village work at daily subsistence picking up odd jobs here and there. There is not much education after age 12. We visited a school today that is a private non-profit that raises funds by selling loofa products grown and fabricated in the village. Those over 12 can attend this school on the weekends for free.

El Rosario village has a very rural feel (you see oxcarts going down the road) yet it is only a few kilometers from Santa Rosa, a city of about 50,000. Santa Rosa has a colonial feel with cobblestone streets and centuries-old buldings, but is a market for daily necessities. The nearest major city is San Pedro Sula with over 1,000,000 residents, an airport and many modern conveniences that we expect back home.

Today as we continued to mix mortar, Henry, a 13 year old from the village stood by watching. I offered him a shovel and it turns out Henry was a mortar mixing pro!! We learned a lot about technique from him though he is nearly half our size. A humbling experience for us. It was fun to see how proud he was to show his skill.

8 March 2011 | de Honduras

9 Mar , 2011

Our work continued today on Enma’s house.  Still doing the same tasks.  Hoping that the cinderblocks will start getting laid tomorrow.  For us, I think that means carrying them to the local masons to lay them.  The work is extremely labor intensive–all manual, nothing at all mechanized.

We are exhausted, but not so much that 5 of us didn’t steal away for a few minutes to play some basketball at the local primary school.  It was a 5 on 25 game, but we did have quite the height advantage.  Our team leaders, Margaret and Miguel Rubiera from Durham Habitat for Humanity have established a great relationship with the school principal.  Needless to say, when we arrived, it was recess!

Much fun.  Very rewarding and humbling at the same time.  I am eager for Habitat Wake to get more involved with Habitat’s work in Honduras.

7 March 2011 | Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

8 Mar , 2011

Habitat for Humanity Honduras started work in 1989 and has completed over 10,000 houses in the country in that time! Very impressive for a country slightly smaller in population than North Carolina!! 53% of the Honduran population lives below the poverty level with an estimated unemployment rate of 28%. It is estimated that the deficit of adequate housing is 1,150,000 units among a population of 8 million.

So housing is a huge issue here AND the opportunity to make a difference in a family’s life is huge. A Habitat house only costs $4,500. Our tithe from Habitat Wake to Habitat Honduras this year will provide approximately 15 homes in addition to the 20+ homes we will build in Wake County.

Today we continued our work on site. We tied re-bar that will strengthen the house in the event of an earthquake, we dug footings, we mixed mortar and once the kids were dismissed from the local elementary school there was jumping rope, soccer, and all those non-construction activities that are so essential to Habitat’s overall building philosophy–building homes, building homes, and building relationships.

Later this afternoon we visited a local orphanage that is operated by the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa. Our group was able to provide some much-needed play time and human contact for this group of 30 or so infants up to two year olds. The Honduran government does not support international adoptions and adoption is not a big part of Honduran culture, so the future for most of these children is pretty bleak. It was heart-wrenching as we left and the kids were crying and standing at the door wanting to leave with us. As a father of three adopted children, it’s hard to put into words how it felt to walk away from that building!!

Habitat para la Humanidad Honduras | 6 March 2011

7 Mar , 2011

I’m hoping to send a few blog entries this week from Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras where I am spending the week working on Habitat house with 19 others from the Triangle area.  We arrived late Friday and began work yesterday.  Our group is split between working on two new homes.  Our group began by helping local masons mix mortar, pour footings, and tie re-bar.  The home is being built in partnership with Enma and her children on property owned by Enma’s family and right next to her parents home.  This is a very common situation in Central America.  The home we are constructing is 450 square feet, built of cinderblock with a concrete floor and tin roof.  There will be two bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, and living area.  The yard is filled with banana plants and is very lush and tropical.  It is located in the village of El Rosario, near the city of Santa Rosa in the northwestern part of Honduras.  I spent the morning on Saturday cutting 150 pieces of rebar with Bernice (an NC Central staff member) and then switched over to mixing mortar with Jesse and Preston, a Duke alum and Duke student-athlete respectively.

Today (Sunday) we travelled to the remote village of Belen Gualcho and worshipped with our group in the Catholic church built in 1680, led by Rev. Keith from the Duke Chapel staff.  It was a blessing to be able to worship together and praise God for allowing us the opportunity to travel to Honduras to serve among those in such great need.  The Habitat affiliate in Santa Rosa is currently building over 100 homes per year amidst a need that is immense.

Habitat Wake tithes 10% of our undesignated donations to support Habitat work outside the United States.  We are now designating our donations to support Habitat’s work in Santa Rosa.  It is awesome to see how much difference the few thousands of dollars Habitat Wake provides can make such an immense difference in the lives of the people in Honduras.


4 Mar , 2011

Since Habitat’s inception as an organization all affiliates (like us!) are expected to tithe to Habitat for Humanity International by giving 10% of all undesignated donations—not for administration and overhead, but for the building of homes in other countries.

At Habitat Wake, we have tithed for the past 25 years, supporting the construction of homes for families in need around the world in addition to the 375 homes that we have built in Wake County.  This is something for which we are very proud.

On March 4, I am leaving to spend nine days in Honduras building homes with families in need in that country.  We are joining efforts with Durham Habitat for Humanity to support Habitat’s work in Honduras.  We are excited to be able to partner with our sister Habitat project in Durham to be able to make a real impact in Honduran communities and with Honduran families.  Currently a Habitat house in Honduras can be constructed for $4,500!!

I plan to provide some additional blog entries during my time in Honduras next week (technology permitting) to give everyone a feel for the struggle and the need in Honduras, but especially for the solution that we in Wake County, can have a part in providing.

Please pray for our group of travelers from Durham Habitat, Duke University, NC Central University, and me.  Our hope is for safe travels and a productive week of building homes and relationships across cultures.

Habitat for Humanity of Wake County
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Phone 919.833.1999
Fax 919.833.8256
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