The building of a house for a family is always a great blessing. Let me try to describe for you the difference it makes…
Maria and her three teenagers lived in a one-room shack with a mud floor three months ago. Bits of wood were cobbled together with pieces of plastic sheeting and some rusty metal roofing to give them shelter. They had lived in this ramshackle abode for years, sleeping together on two mattresses on the floor, cooking and living in that one same room. Water ran across the floor in the rainy season.
The shack had no toilet, shower or wash basin. The family used plastic bags to collect their faeces and put it out in the rubbish. Sickness was common. Maria herself suffered a road traffic accident some years before, which meant an extensive operation on her spine. For this reason she is unable to do physical work, and without an education, is unable to do more sedentary work. Her husband abandoned them several years ago and has not been heard from since.
The price of food in Ecuador is currently equivalent to that in the UK. Clothes, detergents, and toiletries are more expensive in Ecuador. For families like Maria´s, who receive £35 from the government in benefits per month, and can maybe earn £5 a day washing clothes for other families if they are lucky, it is a struggle to simply put food on the table each day. Saving up to build a toilet, let alone a house is an impossible dream.
When we told Maria we were going to build her a new house, she had the old one dismantled within an hour! She was so excited. Tears filled her eyes as she witnessed work begin. Every day her sons helped to mix the cement and lay the blocks, while she cooked lunch for the builders. She had one cockerel she was fattening up for a thank-you meal once the house was ready. The rest of the time the meals were rice, lentils and cooking bananas.
The new house, with its´ block walls, cement floor, kitchen bench and sink, toilet and shower with running water, and two bedrooms, might look somewhat plain to you or I, but to Maria it is a palace. Someone stole the cockerel the morning it was due to go in the pot – so Maria found chickens from someone else to cook us a thank you meal. The builder gave her his sofa bed, so she can sleep apart from her sons, and also some old curtains for the windows. Maria may not have any furniture, but at least she now has a safe, waterproof, clean, hygienic home.
I would like to thank those special people who run marathons, do concerts and simply donate their savings so that families in Ecuador can have a house of their own. What a life-changing gift to give to others!
We are currently working on the 9th and 10th houses to be built by Project Ecuador… perhaps you will give thanks with me for this fantastic blessing.