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HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – EL SALVADOR

Navidad en Acción (Christmas in Action) Blitz Build

November 23 – December 11, 2008

The project site is located on the outskirts of Sonsonate, El Salvador in a small village called Piedras Pachas. Sonsonate is a small city situated West of San Salvador. It is not a tourist area and we saw very few foreigners while we were there and we all had a wonderful time mixing with the locals both at the work site and other offsite activities.

The Team was made up of twelve Canadians, mostly from Alberta, but with members from Ontario, Nova Scotia and BC. The team leader was Orest Myckan. During our time in Sonsonate we stayed at a place called Ecoparque San Bernardo which was up in the hills several kilometres from the city. Nice cabins, a restaurant and two swimming pools.

The build project was a blitz build of five houses on one site and was Habitat El Salvador’s Navidad en Acción (Christmas in Action) Blitz Build which included a large number of local volunteers during the first week in December.

The project started long before our arrival with a prolonged effort to subdivide the land in to individual parcels, logistical planning for materials, personnel and volunteers, electric hook-ups, water tanks etc. The initial site prep and subfloor levelling was done by volunteers from the British School in San Salvador and our team from Canada spent a week advancing the construction/site preparation and preparing materials (cutting blocks, rebar work, sifting sand etc).

The   Navidad en Acción blitz which started on December 1 added many local volunteers from schools, churches and other groups, plus outside contractors for roofing and window work. Check out the photos for Habitat Build.

On the weekend between the building work we visited a number of small towns in the area on a tour generally known as the Route of the Flowers, and two Mayan Archaeological sites, San Andres Archaeological Park and Joya de Cerén referred to as the "Pompeii of the Americas”. Click on the following link to see the photos of Route of the Flowers and Mayan ruins.

At the end of the Navidad en Acción blitz week there was a formal ceremony to hand over the houses to their new owners. The houses where not complete as they required painting, sidewalks, plumbing hook-ups and many other odds and ends but the all the walls, roofs, floors etc were basically finished. After several speeches thanking all the volunteers and everyone else in sight, each of the owners was presented with a key and a bible and a ribbon was cut to open the first house.  It was a very emotional ceremony for all the families and volunteers. See the photos - Handover Ceremony

I have included some photos from Dennis Mialki who is an engineer and Habitat volunteer from Wilmington NC. He was in El Salvador for several months and worked on a number of houses in the Sonsonate area and did a lot of logistical preparation for the Navidad en Acción Blitz Build. He has provided some photos of the land before work started and the work that was done in preparation for our arrival on November 23. He also has a lot of photos of other Habitat builds in the area and more importantly, photos of the houses that many of the families were living in prior to getting their Habitat house. A very stark contrast. See Dennis's photos of the prebuild work and houses.

Ron Schramm also sent his photos and I have included a few of them for all to see. I have divided them into two categories – “People” and “Places” – and included a few comments of my own with some of the photos. I chose “People” because Ron’s outgoing personality earned him many new friends, which is obvious from the photos, and “Places” because El Salvador is so interesting. Included in Places are a number of photos of Ecoparque San Bernardo where we stayed while in Sonsonate.

After two weeks of hard work we treated ourselves to a few days of relaxation at Hotel Pacific Paradise on the Costa del Sol – check it out - Hotel Pacific Paradise. We took a day trip to San Salvador and were exposed to some of some of the gruesome aspects of the recent civil war – see San Salvador photos. Hotel Pacific Paradise was great as you will see from the Costa Del Sol photos and we all enjoyed a couple of days of sun, sand and surf before having to return to the cold of winter back in Canada.

 

For more information on Habitat for Humanity click on the following links:

Habitat Canada & Habitat Global Village

Habitat El Salvador

And don’t forget our Trip Leader Orest – his webpage is buildinghope.ca