Building a Habitat Home in Nicaragua

Dec 17th, 2013 | By FCT

A blog post by Carolyn Morley, Business Development Manager, FCT.

For the past 10 years I have volunteered locally in the London, Ontario area with Habitat for Humanity Canada taking part in local builds for new homeowners. This past November I decided to take part in an international build. I joined 14 others from across Canada to help build a Habitat home for a family in Nicaragua. I did not know the family or any of the other Canadian participants before the trip, it was a life-changing event that will yield long lasting friendships and give me a new perspective on my own situation.

The family of four whose home we were building is headed by Estella whose photo appears with mine on this blog page. To support her family, she earns less than $100 a month by sewing, and selling bananas, passion fruit and squash grown on her lot. Her family currently lives in a two-room house made of wood and tin with no windows, bathroom, running water or electricity and dirt floors. The new home will be about 300 sq ft with brick walls, windows and cement.

Estella’s family members have to put in a number of work hours towards the build as Habitat for Humanity believes in a hand up, not a hand out. Estella’s extended family and entire neighborhood came together to help her contribute those hours. The build site was awash with volunteers, the family and neighbors chipping in to help Estella and her family realize their dream of home ownership.

One of the most amazing things to me was to see how simply things are still done there. There were no cement mixers, so everything had to be done manually. We had to drive to the local river and fill barrels with water by hand. Then we drove back to the build site to mix and pour the cement for the home.

Although they have little by our standards, Estella and her family and friends are the happiest, kindest, most giving people you could ever meet. Being immersed in their culture and working with them daily, you leave the build site knowing that you will not soon forget them or this experience. Although they didn’t speak English, gratitude is a universal language and it was clearly seen in everyone’s smiles, each day we were there.

To get involved locally or in one of the many countries Habitat requires volunteers for, you can find information at www.habitat.ca and their Global Village projects. Habitat is building 50 more homes in the tiny village outside Managua. You don’t need any construction or building experience, just a desire to help others.

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