Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 28, 2008
Knights tee off for Guatemalan houses
Haunting images of families living in garbage dumps in Guatemala prompts fundraising.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- photo supplied
A non-profit organization, From Houses to Houses, builds a 8x10-foot, one room cinderblock house for US$1,500.
For its part, the social justice committee held a parish collection and raised an additional $29,000 for a total of $51,000. The money will be sent to a non-profit organization called From Houses to Homes to build a number of houses.
It costs about US$1,500 to build an 8x10-foot, one-room cinderblock house.
"It's a very modest home, but it survives the elements," commented Schwartz. "It's got a door that can lock; it's got a roof that will not blow off; it's got walls that will not fall down. It's got a concrete floor. It's a palace compared to what the people were living in before they would receive the house."
Many communities have formed around the Guatemala City dump over the years. They are made up largely of homeless families, including many single mothers, who have no place to live. They survive by scavenging whatever they can find.
The 12-member St. Thomas More delegation had an opportunity to tour the communities when it visited two years ago. The group went there to build furniture for a daycare designed to care for small children while their mothers are busy scavenging.
Swartz is still shocked by the misery he witnessed. The people build shacks of "basically sticks, rugs, cardboard - anything that they could scavenge."
"When I was there, we took a tour of one of the communities around the dump area and the dwelling that I was fortunate enough to go into was built into the side of the garbage dump. So one of the walls (of the home) was basically just garbage and dirt," he said. A 21-year-old mother of three used to live there.
He also recalled a mother of two "who was living in (a shack made out) basically of sticks and garbage and tin that just kind of lean together. They were living in a garbage dwelling. Afterwards they were living in a cinderblock house."
Last year, a house was also built for a 75-year-old man who is taking care of his two pre-school grandchildren after their mother died and their father abandoned them.
"Compared to North American standards they are now living in a tool shed," Schwartz said of the old man's new cinderblock house. "Compared to where they were living before, it's a palace."
Now the Knights' trio - Schwartz, de la Salle and Wilson - are busy organizing another charity golf tournament for the Guatemalan poor.
This time the proceeds will go to a charity call ONENESS and will be used to build a school, a daycare and recreational facilities for the poor who live around the Guatemala City dump.
"This will give these people an identity as a community and an opportunity to get educated so they can help themselves," de la Salle said.
The new charity golf tournament will be held at the Cougar Golf Resort Sept 12. Registration is $200 and includes 18 holes of golf, golf cart, driving range, breakfast, barbecue steak dinner, door prizes and tax receipt. For more information call James Wilson at 432-3407.
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