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Day 1 VSP team build in the books!

We survived day 1 of our build! After a hearty breakfast we leave our beautiful resort in San Rafael del Sur and off to the community we are building in Masachspa.  It’s a small community 30 minutes inland, with little resources such as fresh water & electricity.  Our 4 homes are each a block or two away from each other.  I join team BLUE today, building a home for Gustavo & his family. Like many folks in the community he is suffering from kidney failure due to lack of access to clean drinking water, and is unable to work.  His wife passed away 5 yrs ago from the same condition.  He has a few family members living with him and they were on the job site, passing bricks and helping us fill in the bricks with mortar & concreto!! 


We are building a 2 bedroom cinderblock home for the family to live in…a roof that doesn’t leak, a solid floor that doesn’t flood with the rain, and walls and a door to keep the family safe at night. Pretty basic needs right?


Here’s how our day began…and 8 hours later our progress!!! Team BLUE rocked it!!!


And a few of our furry friends watching us work:

Our baby piglet, team blue mascot!
Our flock of smart little ducks…and they know how to untie shoelaces!
Un perro…sweet & protective of family home
And our healthy chickens

First day is always the hardest but all teams got into their grooves, worked as a team to get the task done and watched out for each other. Talking to folks at dinner tonight was awesome, seeing them light up when talking about the day & sharing funny stories, you would have no idea the hard work, sweat & tears they had put into the day.  Shows how strong and capable VSP’ers are and the huge hearts they have!

Day 2 we’re ready for you!! 

Buenas noches! 😴

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Day 2 VSP build done!!

Well we survived another day! I worked with team TAN yesterday and had a great day.  After you get the uncertainties of the first day out the way, everyone has found their grove, knows their strengths, and realizes quickly it’s a tight coordination of different tasks (like everyone’s favorite mixing mortar & concrete!) to keep the rows of blocks assembled.  



It looks so easy, mix the mortar & concrete, lay mortar for mason, help mason get cinderblocks on house, fill the blocks with concrete and mortar, and repeat!!! But if you slow down your raw materials the whole process breaks down! This is where communication, rotating of duties and the whole team watching the flow to ensure you have what you need is critical. It truly makes it a team effort with every person responsible for the teams success.  Best team building ever!!

Team TAN in full swing!

Team TAN is building a home for Pánfilo Sanchez, a 76 yr old man who lives with his 73 yr old wife Virginia.  He suffers from hearing loss and arthritis and his wife has heart problems.  Hugo their son supports the family making about US$70 a month.  They are blessed that this fine team of volunteers are here to build his family a safe and dry home!

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Day 3 build a breeze!!

Anytime you have a half day build your muscles 💪🏼 thank you a little more! 😬 yesterday I worked with team PINK, led by Karen who joined us last year in Estelí. This petite woman is a workhorse! Strong team with their communication and flow down! They looked like experts out there!


Everyday we have the teams take a before and after pic in front of the house, so you can see how clean they started, but most importantly the progress they’ve made! 

Team PINK is building a home for Miguel, a 66 yr old father living with his 59 yr old wife and 4 of their 12, yes 12 children. He works in the calcium mines but suffers from kidney infections.  They do have electricity in their current home but no access to drinking water, and must travel to the nearby river to bring it to the home. This is a huge problem in this community, lack of access to drinking water.  





Off to our last full build day! Tenga un Buen Día 😊

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Day 4 completar!

Today was our last full build day and it was great! Team TAN was short-handed so Don and I worked with the group today to finish the walls and start the patio.  

Here’s how clean we started:


And here’s how we ended…walls done ✅ 


By tomorrow we’ll have the patio complete and the masons will finish up the home para la familia! 

Home stretch! 

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Nica time!!

In less than 24 hours our first group of 44 VSP volunteers will be heading off to Nicaragua to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. I cannot be more excited and blessed to share this passion of mine with so many giving and compassionate people from my company.

We will be building 4 homes next week and another 2 the following week when our 2nd team of 24 VSP volunteers arrive! 

Nica here we come!!! Safe travels team! 


Our amazing team from last year, this years team is twice the size!!!

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A reflection of our Nica Habitat build

It’s been less than 24 hours since I arrived safely home, yet my mind and heart are still filled with beautiful memories of our adventure.

 

Team USA building homes & hope in Nica!

When we arrived in Managua last Saturday we were excited to begin our build, yet I don’t know how much my team members knew how impacted they would be by this experience.

Building a cinder block home is not easy for those used to sitting in an office from 8-5, as we don’t do a whole lot of concrete mixing, constant bending, heavy lifting and being on our feet all day.  But every team member powered through each day, and even though tired, maybe bitten by mosquitoes, bruised by a bucket or cinder block, & some random belly issues all I could see were smiling faces, and all I could hear was laughter and teams sharing their work on the busride home and at dinner.  

 

working hard building homes in Nica!

Almost as magical as the home build and spending the day side by side with the family, are the conversations happening between our team members each day about their new found mason skills, inside jokes about daily team happenings, and getting all 24 together each evening over drinks and dinner to connect in a beautiful way.
  
Although my last 2 trips to Nica were unforgettable, with last year being a women’s build with 19 amazingly strong women, this years trip was extra special as this build was with a team of individuals I know, many of who I work with and several I consider close friends.  Sharing an experience like this with family and friends connects you in a way I can’t begin to describe.  It is team building and trust in its extreme. Being in a foreign country, not knowing the language and doing work outside of your element, you have to trust the folks you are working with and know they have your back (even with your sexy back brace on!).

These homes could not be built in 5 days without a well-oiled team with passionate and determined individuals working as one.

 

Team Sue building home for Maura & family

The stories of the families we build for are fairly similar…Maura Gonzalez, the family my team of 8 built for was for her, her 3 children and 1 grandson.  They have a combined monthly income of around $37.  Tight living conditions, home floods when it rains, and kitchen smoke fills the room they sleep in.  Their new home (only 18sqmtr) will give them a dry, clean and safe place to sleep and spend their days in.  Simple needs most of us take for granted as we’ve been lucky to have these most if not all of our lives.
 
Maura’s home dedication on Friday

In the next couple weeks Habitat masons and staff will add the roof, doors and windows, and the family will move in soon.  Seeing the home of Guadalupe 1 year later and how well she’s doing is proof we are changing their life forever and giving them hope, safety,and a home to be proud of.
 
Guadalupe & family 1 year after our life changing encounter
 
After we completed our build we celebrated  with the families and then with our team.  The muscles are sore, but the souls are nourished!  

A few pics of the beautiful Nica people we were blessed to meet along our journey:

   
 
And a few pics of our team having the times of our lives in Nica:

 

Old City Managua
 
 
Esteli waterfall
  
Team dinner
  
Busride to dinner (clean!)
 
 
Masaya volcano
  
Home dedication & celebration
 
For all the hard work that goes into building these homes, there is double the amount of love, laughter, team work and our joy that make these trips more and more enjoyable each year, and encourage others to try at least once in their life!!  But I warn you, it’s addicting!!

I hope this trip helped create 23 new ambassadors for Habitat and the Global Village program, and hope to see you all in Nica next year!!

Love you Team!! 💓

 

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A beautiful dedication, celebration & day of joy! 

I’m not quite sure where to start with this blog…its been an incredibly emotional and joyful day.  Today we poured the concrete floor in our 3 homes, cleaned up and decorated the homes for our dedications.  

Our team of 24 dedicated and blessed each home, and presented the 3 families with a bible and blessed the home.  It’s at this moment you realize you are in this journey as much for yourself as you are for the families you are building for.  

  
There were many tears, hugs and retrospectives as to what we accomplished individually, spiritually and as a team this week.  To change a family’s life in 5 days with 8 people is pretty amazing; each of these families will have a dry and safe home to sleep in, raise their children or grandchildren, and most importantly to have that sense of pride of ownership.

  

Post dedication we all headed to INPRHU for a community celebration with the other teams that built a combined 7 homes, as well as the families we worked with and families from the 1st phase of the Esteli partnership.

  
The celebration was filled with music, dancing and pure joy and emotion as we spent time playing games with the local children.  The piñata was the hit of course and children and adults were both caught in the crossfire.  

 And my highlight was not only did I get to see the house I helped build last year and Guadalupe, but today I saw my buddy Jordan and his sister at the celebration.  We immediately recognized each other and gave each other a big hug!!

 
 The emotions of a day like today range from feeling exhausted when hand mixing a dozen batches of concrete to a sense of pride when seeing the family’s house blessed, and to then see the children’s joy of being able to dance, play and beat the crap out of paper mache to get candy can be overwhelming.  

Tomorrow we leave Esteli and head off to our final destination, including the Masaya volcano, the market and Lake Granada.  We will celebrate withthe other teams and our habitat family, and send our farewells to our new family.

It’s mixed emotions of joy and sadness as we leave our new family and friends and head back to our daily lives.  

Will recap our adventure and share more pics of this amazing group of individuals coming together as a team to make our mark and leave the most precious memories in our hearts and souls.