Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yet More Greetings From El Salvador

Hello again! Yesterday was another completely amazing day here. Our teams switched work sites, so each group would have an opportunity to contribute to each home. Our team moved from the more remote site to the site in the center of the village. Oh, forgot to mention that the village name we're in is Bolanos. It would be the equivalent of a distant suburb of Santa Ana, probably 15-20 miles from the center of Santa Ana.

In case you had any doubts, I'm not just standing around taking pictures. I'm actually working. These were taken at the beginning of the day when we were all relatively clean. By the end of the day, our team was covered in the sand/cement mixture that we were using all day. Gritty.
We got a little surprise when we arrived on site today. There is no shade from trees at the site we were on today. So a neighbor saw all the gringos suffering in the hot sun and let the family borrow this parachute like thing. After we left the site on Tuesday, the families cut a big bamboo pole and positioned this giant umbrella over the work site held in place with the pole and multiple ropes. It was a huge help today.

A load of lumber arrived at the work site today and wa la! Creativity!

This is 8 year old Rafael. He is a pretty smiley boy, but when I asked to take his picture he said okay then got all serious on me. So, I've got one shot of seriousness, then this shot that I got after acting sufficiently like a buffoon to make him smile. He was helping the team on the more remote site. Rafael is the little brother of Ingrid who was helping us with the wheelbarrow in yesterday's post. Rafael was barefoot and without gloves all day and carrying 35lb cement blocks on his shoulder. We tried to give him gloves at least, but he didn't want to use them. Our Habitat contact explained to us that Rafael helped to build his own family's home and is very proud of his experience. We were worried about his feet getting hurt, but his sister Ingrid told us that his last pair of shoes got worn out and he doesn't have any shoes to wear. Rafael, Ingrid, Blanca and Mauricio also don't go to school. The older kids are needed around the house and we understand that they can't afford the uniforms. How sad. One of our team members Katie is going to leave a pair of sandals at the site when Rafael is around to see is he might take them. We are told that he would probably refuse them if they were offered.

This is Natalie and her posse. The girls in the village just LOVE Natalie. After work the kids took us on a walk around the village to show us their churches. I've never seen kids so enthusiastic about their churches. It was a great walk and interesting in that we got to a part of the village that obviously had more wealth, but was only about 2 blocks from the sites where we are working.

It was Diane's Birthday today. Our team leaders had informed the Habitat affiliate of this and asked if they could arrange for a cake. Instead they went all out and prepared a lunch of traditional indigenous soup and smoked chicken. Then after work, the local families had arranged for their children to sing Feliz Cumpleanos for her, followed by hugs from all the kids. It was very sweet and Diane was incredibly touched. Diane's crying got lots of our team crying, then some of the kids started crying and it was a big blubbery sweet mess.
Part of the after work activities was an inter-cultural exchange. The local families prepared traditional foods including pupusas (a filled tortilla), cooked yuca root (yum!), papeles (I think I spelled that right), and an amazing hot pudding. Again, we were completely spoiled. For our part of the presentation, we had prepared some pictures and did some talking about the seasons we experience up north. Everyone was really, really curious about the snow and got a big kick out of the snow angel picture. We also sang some seasonal songs.

Part of the birthday celebration included a pinata. As you can see everyone got their turn to swat at it.
This Hedi Daniela, the daughter of the family we are building for. Cute, eh?


kirelimel said...

This is such a cool thing you're doing. Keep the posts and photos coming. You rock.

Dale said...

What an enriching thing for you and for anyone reading your posts (like me!). We can learn from Rafael and from you. Good job in every way.