We were lucky enough to be able to meet the members of the board of northwest Alabama Habitat for Humanity throughout this week. Many of them provided meals for us during the week and interacted with us on a daily basis.
Days 4 and 5 differed from the first two days because our team was divided and some of us were sent to work at different locations. One group of students went to an elderly woman’s house in the community and built railings and stairs on her front porch for her. The rest of us stayed at the site and continued to assemble the roof of the office and dig ditches to help fix the flooding issues on the site. On Friday a group of students went with the president of Northwest Alabman Habitat for Humanity to test the energy efficiency of local houses using a technology called blow door testing. The rest of the team stayed at the site and put up the last of the trusses to complete the roof of the structure. By the end of Day 5 the roof was finished, which was a huge accomplishment for the builders as well as our team.
Hi friends it’s Maura! Today we went to the 27 waterfalls which was so much fun. We took some girls from the orphanage with us, and it was so awesome to watch them completely filled with joy, screams, and laughter during the entire trip. Some of the girls hadn’t even been out of their neighborhood, let alone 3-hours away. We had so much fun with the girls, as well as our bus driver Rafael, and our translator Reuben, hiking and going through the falls. A lot of us conquered fears of heights by jumping off big cliffs and it was so cool to watch. If you’re interested to see what the 27 waterfalls are there’s a link below. I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day in the Dominican. This week has been so amazing and we’ve all grown so much as a group and individually.
This week we are working with Northwest Alabama Habitat for Humanity. The site we are working on is located in the town of Guin in Marion county Alabma. Specifically, our team is helping to build a Habitat for Humanity office that will be the first building in a sustainable community of about 20 homes. The focus of this project is to create buildings that are sustainable, affordable, and safe from tornadoes. The office and every home in the community will contain a specifically designed safe room to protect citizens from tornadoes like the ones that struck the Marion county area in 2011.
Our first two days of work included learning how to use power tools, building walls, digging trenches, putting up insulation and constructing the roof of the structure. The contractor directing the project has been able to share so much of his knowledge with all of us. Aside from helping the people of this community we have all learned a lot about building and sustanibility from this experience.
Day 4 was filled with adventure as we increased our awareness of Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife both through doing our service work at the Eco Center Danaus and later with our zip lining ride. Paolo took us on a tour of the eco center and we spotted sloths, leaf cutter ants at work, poisonous frogs, butterflies, caimans, and much more! The butterflies were especially friendly and landed on our heads frequently as we were helping to collect their eggs. Later in the eco center we weeded a tree nursery and planted six baby trees. The trees in the nursery were either endangered because of their precious woods or important for the water banks within the eco center since the roots would create a more sturdy barrier. After finishing our work at the eco center we took a fun stop at a local zip lining area. Scary at first but so much fun! The images we have of skimming the tops of the tropical forests are ones we will never forget! As the day was coming to a close we drove to San Jose and spent the night in our new hotel.
Day 5 was a different change of pace because we began working in an area of San Jose called La Carpio, an area known for its Nicaraguan refugees, poor conditions, and the rest of Costa Rica’s “blind-eye” towards it as Paolo likes to say. Although the refugees might have more in Costa Rica than in Nicaragua, it is still next to nothing. The conditions are truly astonishing. Carpio is a small community within San Jose surrounded by a dump. And by dump, we mean literally a huge landfill where the trash smell rises and fills the streets of Carpio. We worked inside a church facility by filling up a large ditch, mixing up cement by hand, and creating a brick ramp which will allow wheelchair access into the building. The church also serves as a community center for children where they come eat meals after school and even play soccer in the main chapel since there is not a space large enough anywhere in Carpio because of overcrowding or gang control. Although our toughest day with manual labor we all agreed this was our favorite day so far! As a group we have grown very close and it’s easy to have fun while working especially when we know how much we can change with each project we accomplish.
As a group our goal to do as much service as we possibly can in this one week remains strong. But what is stronger is our goal to take what we learn here back with us when we return home. The material items we have, our abilities, and how we use the two has very much been put in a new perspective. It only takes one to make a difference and with our team of twelve we hope to make everlasting changes.
HAAAAAY it’s yo girls Korica and Maura all the way from the DR!!! We had an adventurous day chilling at the orphanage, falling off fabric swings, bargaining at the market, eating pounds of Chinese food, and having dance parties on our bus through Santo Domingo. We also got to eat cake and other goodies from a local Dominican shop. We’re starting to really build relationships with the people in the community, and it’s been so awesome getting to know them and loving on them this week. We’re so pumped to head to the 27 waterfalls tomorrow and bring 3 girls from the orphanage with us. We also can’t believe that we’re more than halfway done with our trip.