House and Conscience Raising in Honduras

Angie Bradley and Janet Springer

On January 24, 2000 the two of us boarded a flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We joined a group from the UCC Catoctin Association organized by the Rev. Gerry Hanberry of Glade Church in Walkersville. The association is in partnership with the Inglesia Bethel Church in El Progresso, Honduras, with the goal of rebuilding houses in Finca Ocho, a small farming community located in the middle of a banana plantation. The community had been destroyed by Hurricane Mitch.

We believed that building a house would be our main objective and accomplishment. After ten days of living and working to accomplish something bigger than the self, the house building became a metaphor for the relationships we built with our peers, the people of Finca Ocho, and the members of Inglesia Bethel church. If I were to pick one word to describe the trip, it would be enlightenment.

When we arrived at the airport in San Pedro Sula, we were greeted by unfamiliar people who had such joy in their eyes when they saw our group. At that moment we knew we were in for much more than building a house. Touring Finca Ocho, we noticed that the people there possessed a sense of pride and community despite the devastation left by Hurricane Mitch. We visited the homes, school, and churches that were flooded. We could still see the 12-15-foot flood lines on many of the buildings. We were told that people stood on the roofs of these buildings awaiting rescue.

While building the house we worked side by side with the future home owner and others in the village who had had homes built for them. The kids also were proud to be involved in helping their neighbor. For eight days we swept the ground with a broom made of tree leaves, hand sifted sand for cement, mixed tons of cement by hand, filled between the cinder blocks as we placed each row of block, dug a hole 5' by 10' to fill the foundation and carried all the dirt via wheelbarrows until we finally put the roof on, installed the wood windows and doors, and laid the cement floor.

We had been assured that our presence would bring to these people hope and a feeling of worth knowing that people from so far away care about them, renewing their faith in humanity. We were told that when we touched the people in the village we would be sending love, and when we sent love we would in turn receive love from these people. How true it was. The man for whom we built the house would come each day to shake our hands and thank us for being there. The children would walk by and reach out their hands and touch us while calling our names. And when we touched their arms or shoulders in return, their smiles would radiate through us and leave an everlasting impression of their happiness, well being, and feeling of hope.

So we completed our building project and delivered the medical and school supplies that we brought to the children of Finca Ocho. Many thanks to those of you who contributed to our collection. We regret that you were not able to see the smiles or feel the gratitude of the children upon receipt of your gifts. You made a difference in their lives.

However, there is still much work to be done in Finca Ocho. Many houses need to be built (about twelve hundred dollars per house), children need school and medical supplies and scholarships for continuing education: books and maps in Spanish, band-aids and neosporin, and money ($400 per child per school year). Send supplies or donations to help the people of Finca Ocho to Glade United Church of Christ, Honduran Partnership, P.O. Box 236, Walkersville, MD 21793. For information, call 301-845-6773. Thank you for sharing our experience.