Carmen’s Place, Part 2.
We have done this before with several of our home construction projects. Because homes in the poorest neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa are packed close together, the walls of the home itself are often the property lines. There are no yards, very little outside space, and, of course, the families are living in the homes during reconstruction. Thus in a remarkable exercise of flexibility and creativity, we are often systematically deconstructing an old, dilapidated home while at the same time building a new home on the same spot, at the same time. Each situation, each family’s needs, and each home moves through the delicate process of destruction and construction in different ways.
At Carmen’s place, the powerful, tropical deluges, which they call rain in Honduras, was most of the problem. Because she lives on the side of the steep ravine, the force of the water rolling down on her home was powerful and destructive. With funding from our Presbytery and a lot of expertise from her church, a construction team created an amazing, concrete waterway which funnels all the rushing storm water away from a direct hit onto the side wall of her home, and into a new, concrete channel which carries it safely around her home, and directs it down a safe path, and ultimately into the stream far below. This new storm water system which now protects her home is the most remarkable concrete construction project I have ever seen, in a place where construction is done without any power tools or equipment. This storm water system was made in a way that also created a new, open landing which offers a small outside space in front of her home. Previously, Carmen, in the worst downpours, needed to keep her front door closed and sealed to prevent the rushing water from entering her home. When we arrived that remarkable concrete work was complete, and I spent some time standing on her new, front porch chatting with the lead mason on this job, Alejandro, about how this project was conceived and built.
These are poor people. Statistically these are some of the poorest people on earth, living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa. Despite being poor, these people are resilient, creative, resourceful, smart and hard working. The concrete, storm water system which a small, group of volunteers from a small Presbyterian church in their neighborhood designed and built at Carmen’s place is a profound testament to the fact that our perceptions about “poor people” are probably all wrong.