Our days start at 9am with an open-aired, windblown truck ride to our work site where we’ve spent the last two days. What started as three skeleton buildings are transforming before our eyes into homes for our new friends. Each home is no bigger than 250 sq.ft., but surprisingly, the number of people working in the congested area work cooperatively and functionally to reach a common goal.
I had no idea there was a tradesman inside me. I’ve learned to build walls with mortar and cinderblock; mix concrete, and haul it by bucket-loads; and sieve sand for wall mud. But, what surprised me even more was the participation of the community, who join us each morning with smiles, to work hard to build homes for their neighbours.
Our labour intensive days are broken up by time to play with the children and interact with the community. While most of our Spanish vocabulary is limited to “Hola” and “Por Favor”, the children are most receptive to the universal language of “play”. Game boys, Ipods, and gaming systems are substituted by basic skipping ropes, colouring books, and frisbees, bringing joyful shouts of delight from the children and “gringos” alike. By the end of the day we climb back onto our trucks, tired, dirty and sweaty, but a happy crew.
This evening we were treated to an open-air theatre in a small Haitian/Dominican community. Each one of us had at least one or more children in our laps to share the movie experience with. Half-way into the movie I recall looking around, and thinking that there was no other place I’d rather have been at that very moment. I was covered in sweat again, but this time not from the sun or the hard work we’d been enduring all day long, but from the body heat generated from the four little humans that surrounded me. A blue tarp was laid out on the ground in front of a big white screen featuring “Kung-Fu Panda”, where we sat still for the next two hours under the star and moon lit sky. I’m not sure who enjoyed this evening most…