October 26, 2010
“However long the storm, the sun will always return through the clouds.” - Khalil Gibran
October, 2010 brought rains not experienced in Nicaragua since 1998. For the first time since Hurricane Mitch, water levels reached over 30 centimeters. The storm lasted more than two weeks, and without the security of solid, block walls, many citizens of Masachapa and La Gallina in Rafael del Sur suffered the consequences.
On October 23, 14 high school and college students participated in the construction of three homes for Nicaraguan families. They mixed cement, applied mortar, sifted sand and produced adobe blocks, working together with Doña Maria, Doña Victoria, Doña Francisca and the professional masons to make their world a home.
Throughout the rainy season, adobe block construction had nearly come to a halt in the region, and families who were in the midst of small home improvements had to halt construction as well. A fraction of the blocks needed for construction projects were being produced due to severe rain and humidity – 500 per day out of the 16,000 needed. The goal for the volunteer team was to produce 800 blocks. At 1:55pm, a siren sounded, and the 14 youth, together with the women of the community and the operators of the small block factory celebrated for having achieved the day’s mission.
To make the build more dynamic, Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua also organized activities with the volunteers and partner families, including games and competitions that offered Habitat T-Shirts as a prize.
The welcoming spirit of the partner families was impressive. “We loved knowing that the kids came here to work, when they could have been at home resting. While they are here, they work as hard as we do; here we are all equal,” says one 55 year old woman who works in the block factory. In Masachapa and La Gallina, the community members lent logistical support to the team, opening their homes, their kitchens, their churches and their schools to accommodate the 14 youth who for 48 hours would be playing the hard-working role of “albañiles”, or masons.
Habitat for Humanity Nicaragua’s national volunteer program has taken off with a much success, and the organization hopes to have a growing number of youth participate in upcoming events to meet the goal of producing 160,000 blocks and 100 homes in San Rafael del Sur. The next team is scheduled for November, and plans are underway for a celebration of International Volunteer Day in December.