(The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps)
Saturday, February 4, 2017
I've always thought that Habitat for Humanity is one of the best charities. In Dominica, there is an organization known as “Good News” that similarly builds houses for persons in need. Just like Habitat, Good News expects those who benefit from the house to assist in building it (sometimes referred to as “sweat equity”).
In previous years, the Good News charity would send work crews of Americans to Dominica to build houses for a week or so in various villages. This year, a guy in my village was selected for the program. However, for this particular year, the Good News organization provided the funding, but allowed Dominican team members who had experience building these houses to run the operation (along with local volunteers). Thus, there was no work group from America this year, but instead, it was Dominicans coming together to help each other.
It starts a week or so ahead of the build date (which was this past Monday and Tuesday) with laying a foundation—a simple concrete block wall with a level concrete pad on top. On our way home from school (thus his uniform is still on) I had one of my students (who lives next door) stand on the far corner (yes, the concrete was already dry) in the photo above to give you a sense of the size (12 feet by 16 feet).
During the week before the build date, supplies are delivered and some preliminary work is done, such as cutting out window holes and painting the wooden walls. This work was done by local volunteers in the former preschool building across the road from the site for this new house. As shown above, the walls are basically finished when they are temporarily put into place on the official build day.
I made a quick trip home during the school lunch period so that I could see the work. The crew is working to precisely put the back wall in place in the photo above. The shot below shows the nailing of the back corner to the side wall that had been put up first. All four walls were put in place, and some of the rafters attached by the end of the first day.
On the second day, I had to go to the capital to assist with some Peace Corps training. However, the picture below shows that they had successfully finished to roof and the interior wall that day. Notice the ladder—probably not OSHA approved.
On Friday, they had a big dedication ceremony, as shown in the pictures below. The house was blessed by the priest for this area. [The umbrella was for sun protection, not rain.] Prayers were said, songs were sung, and holy water was thrown around the structure. [A joke I heard—How do you make holy water? You boil the hell out of it! (Please forgive me for that joke.)]
There was an official handover of the key and padlock for the house. An official plaque was nailed to the wall beside the door, as shown at the top of this article.
The signing of the contract was performed by the new homeowner, the Village Council chairman, and the head of the local Good News organization. [The plaque can be seen in the upper right corner of the picture below.]
Then the entourage headed off to perform another dedication for one of the houses built in another village. Through the efforts of the Good News charity, a number of Dominicans now have a nice new home in which to live. Just like Habitat for Humanity, this is an excellent way to improve lives.