A GROUP from the Rock Christian Community heads to Central America for a humanitarian project, which will include a lot of Terrace in it.
The Belize Housing Project sees 18 church members and four friends from Montreal spend eight days in San Felipe, Belize to build a house for a family there.
Mike Rosenau, church pastor and project overseer, said the group had lots of help from Terrace residents and businesses, who helped the group raise more than $23,000 to pay for building supplies that will be bought in Belize.
“In total, all people who gave, either a very small gift or larger ,was close to 600 in the community here with a few other donations that came from friends in different parts of B.C.,” said Rosenau, adding that every penny of that money will go toward the house building project.
And the people going are skilled tradesman, unskilled labourers, parents and teenagers, who will do the work for a family chosen by its village as the most in need of a house.
“If you saw the houses in San Felipe, they’re not great but this house was basically a conglomeration of sticks basically stuck in the ground and propped up with more sticks and various kinds of tar paper and broken pieces of plywood slapped on the sides to try to keep the elements out,” said Rosenau about the home, which has since been torn down.
San Felipe, located about 171 km north of the capital Belmopan, is a poor, agrarian community.
The family is a 79-year-old father, 48-year-old mother and six children.
Other than the father doing the little bit of agriculture for his family on a little plot of land, the only wage earner was the mother and her wages were peanuts, said Rosenau.
The church here worked with the Blue Creek Evangelical Mennonite Church of Blue Creek, about 15 km away from San Felipe, to sort out the details of the project; Blue Creek is also where the group will be staying.
The church wouldn’t have been able to coordinate the project from here as there’s too many things that need to be done in preparation, said Rosenau.
Two churches in San Felipe gathered enough volunteers to do the preparation work of tearing down the shack, putting in a new septic system and pouring the foundation and the piers to build the house on, he said.
“That work has all been done this past two weeks,” said Rosenau.
“It will be partially built to Canadian standards and partly to Belizian standards. It’s going to be a very solid home, hurricane proof and built the way we would build a quality of house we build here but will look like the other Belizian homes,” he said.
In addition to the home, the family will receive some furnishings and a water catchment system, he said.
The members of the group are paying for their own transportation and expenses while in Belize, he added.
“All in all, it was a huge amount of giving on the part of many people, their time and energy and resources, to give to this family,” said Rosenau.
And the group will be giving up their holiday time and their wages while they’re gone, he added.
“They’re making a significant sacrifice to make this happen, but because we have a number of very skilled builders and a whole group of very willing volunteers, we believe we can pull this off in eight days,” said Rosenau, adding that’s in addition to two days of travel time down and two days back.
As well, the young people in the group will run a children’s program for four days and expect about 200 to 300 children from San Felipe to attend, he said.
That includes taking along giant beach balls and many things to provide two hours of fun for the children, said Rosenau.
The Rock’s group arrived in Belize yesterday and will be there until March 31.