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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Getting Out of Ourselves

The news from all over the world is harsh and depressing. I've found myself caught in loops of trolling the news and (ack!) reading the comments on the articles. (Side note: the comments, it's so completely soul crushing.) 
How I feel about current events
I knew I had a problem when I'd already cried before 10:30am last Thursday. What I was doing wasn't healthy for me and I was starting to obsess, no matter my good intentions to stand up for those that were being maligned.  A friend of ours invited us out to help an indigenous family that was building a new home with supplies and labour donated by CETAP-Lucy, a foundation and school that helps children with developmental disabilities and Hearts of Gold Foundation, that helps link immigrants from North America to charities here in Cuenca, plus another local charity that I don't know the name of. (Okay I know that's poor English, but I don't care.) Here's a special shout-out to Ric, the friend that invited us and official photographer. I totally forgot to take any pictures at all. The existing house is quite small, maybe 2 metres wide and 4 long. The new house will be double in length and triple in width, with two (maybe three) bedrooms and a nice long combined living/kitchen area.

Here's the some of the family:
Jhon, one of the family's three sons
Junior, another of the sons
Rocio, Angel (volunteers) and Juan Diego, one of the sons
On Saturday we headed out early (not my forte) and met at CETAP-Lucy and headed out to the work site. We'd been told that the conditions weren't ideal, that the lot was steep and the work hard. They hadn't undersold it. The slope of the plot had to be around 45 degrees.and only near the current house was there a path carved into the rock. It took a while to get used to moving up and down the grade, but, surprisingly, I got used to it. (Sort of...)

Super steep
The existing house is (as Ron described) rudimentary, but they now have running water and electricity, which is a definite improvement. Some initial foundation supports had been poured, but the government is improving the road by widening it, which means that the placement of the new house must change, rendering one foundation wall completely useless and required that new posts be poured further down the property. 
Existing house
The kitchen
 Much digging ensued. Rock, clay, stone and soil was slowly chipped away to allow space for the new foundation posts. In addition the garbage that was strewn around the lot was gathered and burned. (This is common here. There is little regard for clouds of toxic smoke in the face of "free" rubbish removal. I don't believe there are sanitation services in that part of town.)
Franny - our intrepid organiser
Me wielding a pick axe
Pedro (a volunteer) and Nellie, the mother
Nellie and Ron
Ric, our official photographer and invitor
Hauling away the rubble with Robert
Rocio (from CETAP-Lucy) and Salvador, the father
Nellie, Robert and Ron working on the solid rock.
Ron, enjoying every minute
Salvador chipping away at the wall of dirt and rock
We spent around four hours on site and managed to clear most of what was necessary to get ready to put in the new posts, which will have to wait for at least another week. The going is slow, the work manual and the technology basic: shovels, pick axes and chisels, for the most part. I know the concrete will be mixed by hand and painstakingly poured, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, but it's a great way to focus on something positive. It also is exhausting and we slept pretty well last night. Sure we have some sore muscles and Ron is sporting a couple of blisters, but it was worth it.

If you would like to help out by donating towards the project please go to Hearts of Gold. CETAP-Lucy is also supported, in part, by donations to Hearts of Gold. Or, if you'd like to volunteer your time, drop me a line and I'll get you in touch with Franny.

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