Monday, February 21, 2011

February 2011: The last posting from the group.

Day 10

This is the last report from our Guatemalan Project.

What a time we`ve had! The houses at both sites are almost finished. Roof beams are on and sheet metal roofing is being applied. After two weeks of hard work we now have something that looks like houses. We have learned a lot about construction in Guatemala from cutting building blocks with machetes to shaping and setting reinforcing rods in all directions. Our masons have got used to our talents and how they may best be used. We seemed to gravitate naturally to work that was interesting to us and matched our capabilities. We worked closely with the families and after two weeks developed strong personal connections. It was a pleasure to see their excitement as the houses took shape.

After we`re gone the floors will be laid and we will be looking forward to receiving a photograph of the finished houses.

There is so much to reflect on from this experience. Guatemalan life is difficult in some ways common to developing countries. However, there is so much that is attractive in the way the people respond to their situation. When our mason broke the handle of his sledge hammer, he grabbed a piece of pipe and fashioned another. We noticed how skilled workers are in improvising when there is no money for a trip to the hardware store. They have learned to use ingenuity and personal skills when money and technology are not available.

Our experience riding the chicken bus- something everyone should experience once- revealed the communal-social side of life here. People pile into the buses, sitting three to a seat. They help nursing mothers or old women with bundles on or off. They are gracious and courteous with one and another, patient in sometimes trying circumstances. They extend their courtesy to foreigners. When one asks, in rudimentary Spanish, for directions, the response is almost always helpful and charming.

The people one sees are mostly fit and attractive. This must have much to do with the physical nature of their lives, walking most places, carrying loads, and usually without the assistance of electric or engine powered devices.

It was good to build houses in this attractive land.

Brian Metcalfe
DWC Participant

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