Homes for Gu­atemala

Large lo­cal con­tin­gent trav­el­ling south to build homes


Ten res­i­dents of the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion will be trav­el­ling to Gu­atemala in May with hopes of erect­ing nine new homes for fam­i­lies in need in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try.

Pam Nor­man of Bay Roberts, who has been on two pre­vi­ous trips to Gu­atemala, is amongst those help­ing or­ga­nize the trip, which will see $1,500 homes built to house any­where from eight-to-12 oc­cu­pants. The group will leave May 28 and re­turn to New­found­land and Labrador on June 5.

The homes will be built in co-op­er­a­tion with Arms of Je­sus Chil­dren’s Mis­sion, which op­er­ates a school with nearly 500 stu­dents in the com­mu­nity of Par­ramos. There, the stu­dents can make use of com­puter and science lab­o­ra­to­ries, a re­search li­brary, English classes, and drama and mu­sic pro­grams.

A so­cial worker at the school, with the help of a sup­port­ing staff, as­sesses the needs of lo­cal fam­i­lies to de­ter­mine which ones will move into homes built by the likes of Nor­man and her co­horts.

Field­work­ers as­sist the fam­ily in pour­ing a sheet of con­crete to serve as the base of the home. Once Nor­man’s group ar­rives, it will raise the walls and bolt them to­gether, with a tin roof, a par­ti­tion within the home, shut­ters for the win­dows and a paintjob the only re­main­ing pieces to add be­fore a fam­ily can move in. A bless­ing cer­e­mony will be held once the home is fin­ished. The last lo­cal group to travel in April 2009 built eight homes, and Nor­man says that was a hard job.

While the homes cost $1,500 to build, Nor­man says they aim to raise $2,000 for each home in or­der to pro­vide the fam­i­lies with a set of bunk beds, a ta­ble and chair set, cook­ing uten­sils, and an ar­moire.

The group also reaches out to lo­cal schools to get in on the ef­forts to help the fam­i­lies in need. This year, Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary and Amal­ga­mated Academy are get­ting in­volved. At Amal­ga­mated, home­rooms are be­ing tasked to do­nate spe­cific items, such as crayons, cloth­ing, pa­per, and other items for chil­dren to use.

Nor­man says most fam­i­lies de­pend on work pick­ing cof­fee beans or corn. Many are with­out run­ning wa­ter and have to make use of com­mu­nal sinks or col­lect wa­ter in rain bar­rels. Fam­i­lies who make use of the homes pro­vided by Arms of Je­sus cook out­side.

Nor­man’s first trip came in Septem­ber 2008, and she says it was an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “I cried buck­ets full of tears,” she says. She im­me­di­ately no­ticed how well off peo­ple are in North Amer­ica, even those strug­gling, com­pared to peo­ple in Gu­atemala. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency’s World Fact­book on Gu­atemala, more than half of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion of 13 mil­lion lives be­low the poverty line.

“ We don’t have ex­treme poverty as we ex­pe­ri­ence it go­ing to Gu­atemala.”

On the flip side, Nor­man says those she’s en­coun­tered in Gu­atemala seem much happier than the gen­eral pop­u­lace of North Amer­ica. She also ad­mires their strong sense of spir­i­tu­al­ity and lack of jeal­ousy and envy.

“I think jeal­ousy is mostly a thing that comes with civ­i­liza­tion and wealth, be­cause they don’t have that,” says Nor­man.

Join­ing Nor­man on this trip will be Wil­son Ped­dle of Heart’s Con­tent, who has also pre­vi­ously been to Gu­atemala. First-timers in­clude Eric Nor­man, Neil Marsh, Nel­son Oates, and Linda Oates (all from Bay Roberts), and Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dents Florence Young, Wayne Parsons, Valma Parsons, and Dea­con Janet Pardy.

Par­tic­i­pants will be trav­el­ling un­der the banner of the Parish of St. Matthew and St. John the Evan­ge­list in Bay Roberts. The team will also in­clude peo­ple from Pla­cen­tia, Manuels, and Truro, N.S.

To help raise funds for the homes, a gospel con­cert is be­ing held at St. Matthew’s on March 27 at 2 p.m. The event will be free, but do­na­tions will be ac­cepted.

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