Grandpa Manuel and I take a break from the manual labour. How did I get so dirty?
Grandpa Manuel and I take a break from the manual labour. How did I get so dirty? And why is Manuel wearing my hat?

It’s been awhile. There hasn’t been much to write about in the corporate, Canadian world, which is why I decided to go to El Salvador in November for 10 days to volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity build.

I’ll do anything for some blog material.

The truth is the meeting to sign up for the build happened the week I got back from Sri Lanka in March. I saw it as a sign from sweet baby Jeebus and signed up before I had got my first pay cheque.

Needless to say it was an awesome time (as us Canadians always say) and it’s easily been the best decision I’ve made since coming home (the second best decision was buying a Grey Cup ticket, the third was remembering Trina’s birthday).

So, me and 37 other colleagues made the long journey down to San Salvador on November 8, and after a couple days relaxing on the beach, we spent 5 full, sweaty days working on 3 homes for 3 different families. We all paid or fundraised over $2,000 each to get ourselves down there, make a donation to Habitat El Salvador and buy the building material for the houses.

I know, I know. If you enjoy judging others as much as I do, you’re probably asking why we all just didn’t put our money into building houses in inner city Regina where the need is huge for decent homes?

Well, first off, it’s fucking cold in Regina in November, so the 30+ temps looked pretty good (sorry for being selfish). And, second off, I think you’ve got to do both.

For sure we need to take care of our own backyard, but the fact is we don’t live in a bubble anymore. Those days are gone. If you don’t believe me just look around Regina at all the new faces. What happens in Sri Lanka, or El Salvador, will eventually reach us here.  And instead of being surprised or outraged or ignorant when it finally does, why not search for a bit of understanding now, a bit of common ground.

And while I also know that a 10-day Habitat build is a small drop in the bucket, there was nothing small about it for those 3 families. Those three homes will completely transform those people’s lives forever.

On my build we heard the same thing every day from our family: “I can’t believe you came here from your country to help us. You don’t know us. You don’t speak our language, yet you spend your own money and leave your families at home to build us a house. It is unbelievable.”

To me, that says it all. It’s real. It’s simple. It’s human. And, it was great to be a part of.

Where to next?