The first day of building houses in this week, was crazy. By 12:30pm we had built 4 new homes but don’t try this at home, we’re professionals. That really was the key success factor. Shelter Canada has developed a number of teams of local men that are part of each house build. They are employed by the project, and when they are not assembling the metal houses, they are pouring the concrete floors. As a result they have become really proficient at what they do. (The local employment is an intentional part of Shelter Canada’s operation – more about that in another post.)
We were split into two groups – each with 3 of us “guest workers” from Canada, plus 3 of the hired team members and all of the neighbor folks. The job sites were over-crowded with guys. In no time the site was laid out, the ground marked for foundation holes to be dug, the side walls assembled & sheeted on the ground and before you knew what happened, the trusses were being lifted into position. While the roof was being sheeted, the interior dividers, windows and doors were mounted. In the end, when we looked at the time we had finished the first house in 2 hours! On to the next one. It pushed back lunch by a 1/2hr, but both teams had built both their houses by just after noon. Wow!
When asking the recipient families who helped them prep their site, most will say that their families helped them prepare and level the ground. Rarely will neighbors help each other. I’m not sure if because of the subsistence existence, they feel they don’t really have anything to offer their neighbors, or being in the same plight as they, don’t really think they have anything to contribute. Or is it because of their high regard for family that they rely so much on each other. Most of these people grew up in this little village and have never lived anywhere else. Of course they have all their family around them. At any rate, Shelter Canada requires each of the recipient families to be present to assist in the construction of all the other houses built this week. This means that neighbors, for a change, work side-by-side with their neighbors for once. This is an intentional effort at building community relationships.
This family of three (mom and 2 teenage sons) dug away a hillside of dirt and rocks to make room for their new house. It took the three of them 3 months of spades and crowbars to move “their mountain” – sadly by themselves.
Needless to say, the mom was beside herself with joy today as their new house proudly stood in the yard of their labor.