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What an Experience!

We returned from our trip to the Dominican Republic through the Ontario Home Builders' Association Humanitarian Build and what an experience it was! On November 22nd, my wife Yvonne, our daughter Rhiana and I left for Puerto Plata not really knowing what to expect. Our plane touched down late that evening and after a brief orientation and a short night sleep we loaded up on the back of an open truck with the rest of our team members and headed for the barrio (slum) named Aguas Negras which in Spanish means "black water". I found out the hard way what the black water really was after stepping off the path and sinking half way up my shin in black sludge, it was like stepping into a septic tank. So much for my new work boots. The living conditions are horrible but the people are so friendly and welcoming.

Our association was there to build six houses for some of the families most in need and they were selected by the organization named Hero Holidays. The house we built was for a family of seven. It was very small, about 450 square feet due to the small lot size. The local contractor, Harrison, had most of the block walls up when we got there. We needed to finish the front wall and proceed with forming the top of the block wall with whatever scrap wood we could find. After that, we could then pour concrete into the walls to tie the structure together. All the concrete and mortar was mixed by hand in the middle of the street which Yvonne, Rhiana, and other team members were doing. Everything got hauled inside by using bucket brigades (people getting in a line and handing off buckets to the person next to them down the line). The weather was very hot and humid that day and we were glad we had the morning shift. After a short trip back to the resort and a dip in the pool we where ready for another day. After 4 days passed, the houses where completed with the eager help of the local people. The houses were very simple with stained concrete floors, block walls with a smooth parging coat painted a bright color, corrugated steel roofs, and a concrete shower and toilet. A dedication ceremony was held on Sunday when  the keys were handed over to the families. The whole community was there to watch and participate. It was a very emotional experience knowing that these families now have a dry and safe place to live. I would recommend that everyone should try doing this at least once in your life, it is truely a life altering experience. Posted by Ron Hendriks

Here is what OHBA President Doug Tarry had to say about the Humanitarian Build...

“This was an exhilarating, fulfilling and awesome experience. Our Humanitarian Build is an extension of the wonderful philanthropic work that our
members are involved with each and every day in their own communities across the province.”

Please visit these great links to see more from the Humanitarian Build!