Thirty-five ABLE volunteers – including 22 high school students – recently completed an incredible mission in Haiti, which is still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake. The mission was led by Lexington Catholic High School senior (and ABLE Board member) Christian Cole, and his father, Jon (also and ABLE Board member.
They worked in the remote area of Grand Goâve, which was one of the hardest hit areas. It is about 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.
The goal was to build two “rubble” homes, using rubble from the earthquake to create building blocks for the simple structure.
The first home was to be for a woman and her three children. Her husband was killed in the earthquake. They have been living in very cramped quarters with her grandmother.
The team spent several days crushing rubble and sifting sand in near 100 degree temperature.
An unexpected problem with materials forced the team to improvise, but this also caused delays. During the days they couldn’t work on the home, the volunteers painted a school, distributed toys, dental supplies and school materials in nearby villages. They also visited an orphanage, where they passed out clothing, dental supplies and school materials.
By the time the wire mesh was available, the team has only a day and a half remaining. They used every moment, shoveling the rubble into 5 gallon buckets and forming a human chain to pass the buckets along to people on top of the walls. The rubble was emptied into the baskets and this process was repeated over and over again until the walls were completely filled.
Before they left, they made arrangements for both houses to be completed.
A small team of ABLE volunteers recently returned from Spur Tree, Mandeville, Manchester Jamaica, where they worked with different operations of Gift of Hope. These organizations serve orphans, disabled children and adults, as well as many others who have no other source of aid. The ABLE volunteers helped with a variety of tasks, but spent much of their time bringing joy and love to the poorest of the poor.
Twelve ABLE volunteers traveled by SUV to Black Mesa, Arizona, where they worked on the Church of Joy and pastor’s home on the Navajo Reservation. Native American Pastor, JR, said the original Navajo Church was built in 1974 and the current church with attached dining hall, kitchen, and work-in-progress basement was built in 2005 by another nonprofit organization. JR’s congregation consists of about 25 members in the remote area and he also ministers throughout Arizona and Utah with his traveling tent revivals.
The ABLE group volunteered to do a “Kid’s Club” Bible study during the week, but focused on work projects. Some of the group mopped and swept the kitchen floor to prepare it for painting and others helped move a pallet of 92 pound cement bags. The upstairs crew did a fantastic job painting the kitchen floor and later applying the paint by feet (as in ice skating).
The kitchen crew began painting the island while ABLE’s other half started work on Pastor JR’s floor. JR and his wife live in a 43 year old trailer home near the church that has rotted beyond repair. JR has added a bedroom and family room to the trailer and the floor was concrete. Our job was to tile and grout the space.
The kitchen crew also hung dry wall and painted the kitchen cabinets. The other crew went back to the pastor’s house and grouted the tile work. Later, cleaning the grout proved to be a great challenge, because it required numerous buckets of clean water that had to be carried in from the outside tanks to complete the job.
The ABLE team had a great experience and had an opportunity to see some of the area and enjoy the local culture. It wasn’t easy, though. There is no running water at the church. Volunteers took solar showers outside and had access to two outhouses and four port-o-potties. It was not until Wednesday evening that the port-o-potties were serviced. It definitely wasn’t like home.