Our first stop was to an older single woman who had never married. She is the oldest of ten children in her family, and had cared for her siblings and distributed the family land among them. In the past she had a house, but it was destroyed in the 1976 earthquake that hit his area. Since she had no husband or sons, there was no one to build a house for her on the small plot of land she owned.
She had been saving corn stalks to build a small hut for herself. She was overjoyed at the thought of having a real house to live in.
The kids in this area were unusually friendly, and loved having their pictures taken. I spent most of my time during this stop playing with the children.
We then stopped at a home of a single mom, who had a seizure disorder. To get to her house, we had to go through a maze of winding corridors, and through what appeared to be someone else's kitchen. She and her son live in this one room, and the only land she owned was what was under this room. The back wall of her home actually belonged to her neighbor. After seeing this dwelling, Chris realized there was no way to build a house in this small, confined space. He hopes to send Pastor Juan back to help cover some of the wholes that allow rain to enter the house, but decided that this space was so compact a team could not work there.
Always prepared, Pastor Juan had the paperword for another family in need of of house. They were not expecting us, but we decided to stop there anyway. When we arrived, we were greeted by the widow's four daughters. Mom was out working--selling tortillas and doing laundry to try to earn a little money to feed her family of seven (the oldest daughter (16) was working as a housekeeper; the one son was out in the neighborhood playing). As we waited we talked with the girls about their school work and their hopes for the future.
When Mom arrived, she was somewhat taken aback to find 5 gringos and Pastor Juan waiting for her in her home. When asked if she would be willing to share her story with the Westside folks, she somewhat reluctantly agreed. We all sat dumbfounded, however, when she began to speak. She was one of the most articulate women I've ever met, and told her story susinctly and completely, without even needing any prompts. She shared her stuggles, and her desire to protect and care for her children as best she can. We were all in tears by the time she finished speaking.