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Weeks 2 & 3 in Sincelejo

Dsc01588These past 2 weeks have been very productive, especially given that this comingDsc01529 weekend's presidential elections have spurred some extra "action" around town between the guerrillas and government soldiers.  Nobody seems to know whether it was a bomb or incompetence that blew up the Utilities building but the result is there was no water for 5 days last week.  Which is actually fine with me since I've completely given up on taking showers here anyway.  I'm completely soaked in my own sweat by 6:15am every morning  so why bother?  But at least now I have an excuse: "Those damn guerrillas..."  Today was the first time I had to get out of the car at gunpoint and lie spread eagle face down on the pavement while the military police searched our car. Apparently the IRA or Beider Manhoff has been sending mercenaries to train the guerrillas here to build bombs so my "I'm just a gringo" defense falls on deaf ears...

Dsc01527_1The first 3 "model homes" are progressing nicely so we started digging/laying theDsc01571_1 foundations for the next 12.  The team was kind to let the gringo take the first ceremonial swing with the pick but there's no doubt who's doing the real work here.  One interesting thing you'll notice in some of the pics (at right) is that the poorer workers from displaced families in the local barrio TAKE OFF their shoes while they work since they don't want to ruin their only pair.  So everyone here is swinging big pick-axes and pile drivers just inches from their bare feet.  It pains me to watch...

Dsc01600It's also unbelievable to watch them make the tools from the same material which they make the houses.Dsc01601  This homemade hack-saw is made of leftover rebar from the foundation work, the concrete spatula was a pancake spatula in a past life, and the cement sifter is the screen door off of someone's house (which he takes back home everynight).  We were fortunate to get a bulldozer for the day at a greatly reduced cost since the thought of moving all that land to create a level worksite was intimidating.  And we've increased the full team of paid workers to 25 and will likely double that next week.  While $7 dollars per day for back-breaking work isn't very appealing to you and me, they're lined up around the block for these jobs here.

Dsc01597The standard workday is to get up before the sun (and heat) and get as much workDsc01595 done before the afternoon steam arrives.  I've become friends with the locals in the barrio and like to play dominoes or shoot a game of pool in the afternoon.  They usually take me for a few thousand pesos ($1) each day which I wish I could tell you was my way of giving them money but in fact I'm a horrible billiards player and am actually trying to win.  There are a few places to play but I prefer the one in this pic because they have felt on their tables, however the barb wire against the back of your legs requires you to be careful when sizing up your shot.

Some exciting news beyond Sincelejo:  Because of your generosity ($70,000 and counting!) we've been able to get an audience with some key government officials to pitch an even broader role for Habitat building houses for the poor in Colombia.  Habitat is a relative newcomer to Colombia and until now has struggled to get traction/publicity within NGO circles.  We met with the office of the First Lady of Colombia who is responsible for many of the social programs in the country, as well as the Mayor of Cartagena who wants to help Habitat build 350 house there.  We're getting wonderful support from Accion Social, the social services arm of the federal government, to build schools and more services in the communities where Habitat is building. 

All this is possible because of 1) your generous support and 2) help from wonderful people like Jaime Echevarria who passed my blog onto people in his network.  You're making a difference on even a larger scale than you initially thought possible...

Click here to see pics from weeks 2 and 3 at the worksite

-dave

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Comments

Hey Dave: What you're doing is so amazing!!! Keep up the blogging! It's such an enjoyable part of my day to take a break and catch up with your world. And thanks for all the fabulous photos...

SSR

AWESOME.......... It takes me a year + to built an overpriced mansion you go girl!!!!! Take this $500 and build a few yourself!!! I love your spirit and effort.

Chuck Legge

Did you try telling the military police you were embarassed/pregnant as well?

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