Sweat, Dirt, Blisters, and Progress

Trip Start Jul 27, 2011
Trip End Dec 14, 2011

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Placement and Build-A-Home

Flag of Philippines  , Eastern Visayas,
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello Everyone,
The past two days have been extremely exhausting.  Monday we began the new Build-A-Home project, finally after being delayed by the typhoon and flooding.  So i went to my placement from 7:45-1:30 pm. Then I headed to the market in Palo, about 15 minutes from my placement, to meet the other volunteers and head to the build-a-home site.  To get there you have to ride a motorcycle, called a habel-habel, which has an extension on the back and roof built over the top.  the habel-habel seats 3 Americans/Foreigners or 4-5 Filipinos.  We got to the project site around 2 and began digging the holes where the cement pillars, built to keep flood waters from going inside the home, would be laid.  There was no shade of course, and the weather has been cloudless and very sunny the past couple of days.  It is beautiful weather for October, but quite hot when you are digging holes that seem endless. There were about 15 little kids running around the entire time, trying to help off and on.  They ended up helping quite a bit, and also distracting from the hard work.  We dug 7 holes on Monday, about 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide each.  After we finished digging we had a photo shoot with all the children, they were filled with excitement. 

The littlest boy, who was about 3, ended up getting pushed in one of the wholes twice, but was luckily not too injured.  The first time he fell face first, when I pulled him out his face was full of dirt and tears.  I washed him off and he seemed good to go.  But then he slipped and fell in one of the holes and his shirt got stuck on a marker, leaving him hanging half fallen in to the hole.  I was coincidentally near by again and got him off, but it clearly didn't feel to good to his back.  Did I mention he had no pants on? He really didn't and I think that added to his innocence and injury.

We got home around 5:30pm.  Dirty, sweaty, and both my thumbs blistered.  It was a good day of hard work, but I surprisingly had trouble falling asleep.  The tiredness hit me this morning at 7 am, still not sure how I am standing 12 hours later.  My back and arms are sooo sore today, finally getting a work out here in the Philippines. :)

Tuesday we finished the last hole.  Some of the other volunteers worked on digging the septic.  While the rest of us, on our second day of digging, opted to move cinder blocks and sand from the road to the project site.  Not a far journey but slow and time consuming moving one block and bag of sand at a time.  The blocks weren't fully dried so a quarter of them broke in half along the way.  Some of the little boys were back again today to help us carry the blocks and bags though.  They did an even better job at carrying than they did at digging...I think they were only 4 or 5. The sand was the most troubling.  We of course had no wheel barrow.  So we were forced to carry the sand via potato sack, 3-5 shovel fulls at a time.  At about 4 pm Erica and I called it quits, after working in the heat for 2 hours.  The cinder blocks were all moved and the sand was about two-thirds of the way transported.  All the holes for the house were dug, and almost all of the first layer of cement laid inside of them.  The local workers were in the process of adding the pillars.  I didn't get a chance to take pictures today, but I will return on Thursday to much progress I suspect.

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Patty Rutenbar on

Your adventures are amazing and make me so proud of you. The hard work you do every day that you are there is so helpful to so many people over there. I thank God for you and your efforts to restore a better life for the people you work with. It's always fun to read your blog entries! Please take care!

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