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.