A lot of people went to a lot of different places over spring break, but unfortunately for me, the writer of this column, no one has given me anything to write about. So, what you get this week is what I like to call my backup plan. The backup plan is otherwise known as, “if no news drops in my lap by Sunday afternoon, I guess this is it.”
On the Friday right before spring break began, Christian Kar (my husband) and our two sons, Sebastian and Bellamy, left the melting nether region of Lost River at the horrid hour of 4 a.m. in order to catch a flight to SeaTac International Airport. This flight to Houston was the first leg of their trip that the next day would get them to San Salvador, El Salvador. Their purpose was to build a house in Acajutla, El Salvador, where poverty is quite extreme and many people live in nothing more than some sheet metal and other pieces of garbage lashed together with rope.
On Saturday, they met up with Thomas Klemmeck from Twisp, who had wanted to join in on this project. After Thomas’ flight arrived hours later, they were driven about an hour-and-a-half to the house in Acajutla that would be their home for the week. They arrived at a rental that had no sheets, no towels, no utensils, no propane for the stove, and no pots or pans. It did, however, have a sink and shower that were clogged, a swimming pool and a coffee maker that actually worked. They made the best of it and woke up Sunday morning ready to begin.
Christian’s friend, Rafael Batres, brought them to the building site for this particular house. Our family had met Rafael six years ago when we went to El Salvador for a family vacation. Rafael is a leader in his community and he works with a group of people that build homes for others that do not have proper homes. This is not a formal organization, just some people that see a need and want to fill it.
Preparing to build a home once the recipient is chosen is a slow process, as Rafael first needs to raise the money for the home. A standard house that they build is approximately $1,000, which to a Salvadoran is an incredible amount of money. The home that they were building was almost twice the size and cost of the typical homes.
They began by digging holes for the posts. This was no easy task, as they did not have proper tools and people did some of the digging with bowls. Once the holes were complete, posts were put in with concrete that was mixed by hand. Did I mention that the first few days the weather was extraordinarily hot and humid, with a heat index of over 100 degrees?
The next step was to put up the specially coated sheet metal, cut in holes for the windows, and put on the metal roof. Finally, when the structure of the home was complete, the form for a patio was made to be completed at a later date.
The house is very simple; no bathroom and no kitchen. This home was no more than 500 square feet, but the family felt like it was a mansion. There were many tears, much gratitude, and a lot of hugs. But do you know who benefitted the most? I believe it was my family and Thomas. It was a life-changing experience and one that formed great friendships.
If you are reading this and would like to know how you can participate, please feel free to send me an email.