Here's an album of pics from the Lisa/Amanda team:
|Lisa and Amanda´s Team|
The two leaders met a few years ago in Costa Rica at an intensive language program. Lisa had been involved in Habitat for Humanity almost since its birth and she invited Amanda to help lead teams and to practice her Spanish abilities during trips to Latin America (on the left, Amanda, to the right, Lisa.... I don´t think we got a picture of her NOT working!).
This is the first house in Ecuador for which I participated in the construction from the initial scraping of the ground (I soon participated in several more!). This site was located on a narrow, tropical, strip of land. To one side is a banana field and to the other was a neighbor´s residence where we used the well and the "bathroom."
A pleasant surprise at this site was that, each afternoon, neighborhood children would gather for a dance class on the dirt road! The girls would line up on one side and the boys on the other. We had help on the work-site from some of the neighborhood children later in the week.
Across the street was a more dismal site: this is exactly the type of housing Habitat strives to eliminate. There were SEVERAL young children who lived in this bamboo-plastic sheet residence.
Although we had planned to be working on two houses, a land-legalization holdup made only one site available. Luckily our "maestro", Jose, has become a master of work allocation and training diversification. We were able to keep everyone busy and tired all week!
Usually the Habitat houses in Ecuador have a front "sala", kitchen and bathroom, and two bedrooms. The first task was to clean the area while Narcisa, the engineer and Jose, the maestro measured out the plans for the house on the ground: 6 meters by 6 meters, 36 square meters. That is less than 400 square feet!
The family that will move into the house consists of Susanna and Miguel (the owners), their two children and their nephew, Victor. A brother in law of Susanna´s, and her nephew, Victor, were the family´s representatives working on the house all week. Prior to this house, the family was paying a rent that was too high to allow the family to purchase their "primary needs basket", and too high to allow for savings. With the Habitat no-interest loan, they will not only have lower monthly payments than they incur currently, they will also be putting their income towards an investment. In 8 to 10 years the family will have paid off their home! Susanna (left) often brought the group fresh juices as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon treat.
After the site was cleared, and the measurements made, the next task was to dig the foundation trenches.
The trenches are quite deep due to the risk of earthquake damage! The ground, however, was very soft and the team had the thigh-deep trenches completed by the end of the morning on the first day.
To ensure the trenches for the foundation would be level, long tubes of water were used, verifying the water level was the same on each corner and midpoint. Below "la ingeniera" (the engineer), Narcisa, and our "maestro", Jose, are pictured checking whether one of the back house corners was level with a front corner of the house. Water isn´t affected by what happens between two points in the tube, each end will demonstrate with its water the level of that point in the foundation.
After the foundation trenches were prepared, the group began creating the "cadenas" (chains) which would provide structure to the house´s columns and footings.
Each component of the chains was prepared manually: re-bar was measured and cut; wire for tying was wound into rings, measured and cut; narrow re-bar was measured, cut, and bent into squares. Then using the wire, the squares were tied to the re-bar, creating column frames.
Here is a pic of the site, and the team, after the first day´s work was completed.
To prepare the base of the foundation, large rocks and sand were used to partially refill the trenches. Moving the rocks with wheelbarrows and buckets is always a massive job... and then the endless task of cement mixing began!!
Although I have heard rumor that one of the Habitat sites in Ecuador has a cement mixer, it has not yet appeared at any of the sites on which I´ve worked! The human version, however, is always present. Who needs a gym???
The chain-columns were tied into foundation squares at each house corner, and at their midpoints, creating a framework for the entire house. When the foundation was poured, the cross-columns, which would become the frame for the footings, were created in between the column chains and tied into place. By the end of the week, the team had finished the foundation, footings, and poured the cement floor for the house. They had also poured the vertical columns for the walls of the house, dug a septic tank, and started to lay brick.
Tasks such as moving brick, and pulling water out of the neighbor´s well (for mixing cement--- we used A LOT of water!) are HUGE and take up time one wouldn´t guess in the grand scheme of building a house.
With all the action taking place, we attracted the help of many young children! I was impressed with their strength- they passed bricks in our "human brick chain" for as long as any of the other volunteers. was finished! When the group left Santo Domingo, they had made huge strides towards the completion another family´s dream of their own, decent house.