Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A house is made of brick and stone

But a home is made of love alone. So the saying goes.

The Filipino people our Habitat for Humanity team interacted with had a lot of love to share, that's for sure. It was amazing to work along side them and play with the darling children!

I had an absolutely fantastic experience helping to build houses (out of cement blocks -- kind of a combination of bricks and stones, actually) in Puerto Princesa. There's a whole ton to write about, so I'm going to stretch out sharing about my time in the Philippines over a few blog posts.

Since I went there to work, I'll focus on the building aspect of the trip for right now:

The work we did was grueling. The intense sunshine and heat made it even more so. All 20 of us on the team sweated profusely!

Liz and I with new friends on our first day of building. Behind us are some houses in the village, exactly like the three houses that our team worked on.

One of the hardest jobs was mixing cement by hand. Err...I mean shovel. ;) Here are Anson and Phil getting the job done...

The cement was used as mortar between layers of blocks. I spent a lot of time carrying buckets of cement to my fellow team members. During the four and a half days of building, I worked primarily on "the house farthest away" with the same group of fun people: Matt (a.k.a JB for Jukebox), Eunice (a.k.a. Panda E), Kaspar (a.k.a. the friendly Swiss), Holly (I don't think she had a nickname..hmm) and our Filipino worker friends -- Lenny, Romeo, and the future homeowner of the house we built.

Matt and Eunice stacking blocks like it's their job...which it was. :) I stood below handing up blocks and cement to them.

Getting buff from lifting, haha. I'm actually trying to show off the ink pen tattoo that Liz gave me, but you can't really see it. Oh well. By the way, the blocks were handmade by other people in our group. At one point, I produced three beautiful baby blocks, making me one proud mama. :)

My teammates and I took turns being lifters and stackers. Here's a picture from one of my turns as a stacker (not to be confused with a slacker! ha)...

Here I am working with Romeo, who is half machine and half beast. Only kidding. But seriously, what a strong, hard-workin' fella! At one point, I was up high (on the balcony, if you will), while Romeo was below, and I called out to him, pretending to be Juliet. Fun times. :)

We were supposed to finish the house, but we didn't get to because of the extremely heavy rain that decided to present itself immediately after we had poured the cement floor. Boo. (You can tell in the above picture that rain was coming.) So the professionals had to do some damage control on our last day of building.

On our team's last day, we each stayed with different host families in houses exactly like the ones we worked on. For me, this was definitely one of the highlights of the week. It was such a great experience to live with a family in the Habitat village. Here's the family that I stayed with:

This was our dinner of fish, rice and bananas.

My host mom told me (in English! I was lucky to have a host mom who spoke English well) at dinner that they are very poor, but they are very happy for what they do have. After dinner, we visited some of the other people in the village. I had an awesome time dancing with my friends Amanda and Kristen at their homestay house!

The next morning, I took this video...(Sorry about it being so dark.)

This is the outside/kitchen area where my host mother made dinner and breakfast...

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more Philippines' info, stories, pitctures, videos etc. :)


Dawn said...

It looks like you had a lot of fun. I love the pictures - as you can tell already since I commented on a bunch of facebook. I'll be looking forward to hearing more about the trip. Email me sometime.

Jennifer said...

Hey...this brings back so many memories...masquito nets and wonderful host families in Africa...rice in D.R....and mixing cement in Nicaragua. I love other cultures and being a part of them for a while. I'm so glad you were able to video this for us to see. I love it...and you of course!!! :)

Lauren said...

It looks like you had lots of fun!!! I want to go there someday with you!!!