Hand in Hand- Building a house- Day 6

We started building today. Well after a crash course in how Belizeans function, that is not on a schedule. We started at the Starfish house after a breakfast of eggs and Johnny cakes. We drove to a container to pick up some supplies. Then we drove to a lumber yard to get some more supplies. Then the pick up truck went to some other lumber yards and we went to the site where we will build the house and waited for almost two hours. It was fine, just a lesson in how things work in Belize.

After the truck made it to the site we unloaded it and started to get everything set up to build a 16’ x 8’ house with a bathroom. Frank is the gentleman we are building for, we also had help from Jennifer a future home recipient, and Elizabeth, a woman who got a house a few years ago, and her daughter, Ashely; Elizabeth tries to help whenever she can. Beto, a Mayan from Hattieville, and Alfonso, from Belize City, were the foremen for our project.

We are building house 221. It is out in Sand Hill in a marshy part of Belize District. Today we dug a 4 x 6 x 1 foot pit for the septic tank, made pillars for the house foundation, built the deck for the house, framed and sided 2 of the walls, and unloaded a lot of sand, concrete, and mason blocks for tomorrow. It was great working with Frank and the other Hand in Hand folks.

Tonight we hand another introduction to Belizean time keeping efforts. Bernie was suppose to meet us and talk about the program but didn’t show (which was unusually we thought he was just late. However Abel, the director of Hand in Hand Belize talked to us about the program and how people get selected (which is a long 3 month process), and how the program helps them with keeping and maintaining a house and staying out of trouble. The program stresses the need that the house is for the person not as a money making venue (they will help you with getting a job but it can’t be the house and it is sad to hear that a woman might get evicted because she is breaking that contract). Hand in Hand tries to holistically help everyone it gives a house too, I found out our cook Caroline also has a Hand in Hand house.

Antonio and I also talked with Raphael, the night watchman who is Ketchi Mayan. He is Beto’s cousin from Hattieville and watches the house for us at night. While it is a safe neighborhood, Hand in Hand does not want to take any chances.  He was a keeper for the Belizean soccer team but has been hurt too many times, although he recently started to get back into soccer. It is interesting that the teams in the area do not pay their players to play so Raphael had also working with the DEA and gang units in Belize City to try and offer alternatives to the gangs. He suffered a stroke (from the injuries) and so resigned in 2008 and has been a watchman for the house since. And since I can’t travel without shrinking my world even just a little bit, his sister lives in Carver, Massachusetts. Small world we live in. Antonio and Raphael are playing dominoes with a student, Raphael is also a really good dominoes player. He says the best players of basketball, football (soccer), or dominoes come from the streets. And when I left he was kicking everyone’s butt so I guess it is true.

Tomorrow we will keep working on the house and visit a health clinic in the area.

Good night and talk to you all later.


About handyatmurlo

I am a Latin teacher at Regis Jesuit High School. I earned my MA at CU Boulder and my BA at UMass Amherst. I have spent my summers working in Italy as an archaeologist at three different sites. One I have worked at for 10 years at Poggio Civitate at Vescovado di Murlo. I have worked at the Villa of Maxentius in Rome for 2 years, before the project ended. I also spent 2 summers at the FSU excavations in Cosa.
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