January 18th, 2021

Building hope in El Salvador

By Bobinec, Greg on March 26, 2020.

Home-building trip helps families dealing with extreme poverty

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


For the fifth consecutive year, a local group organized by Ashcroft Homes and Bezooyen Contracting, including six of their staff and 15 others, recently returned from a seven-day trip to El Salvador to help build 18 homes for those in extreme need.

Most of the participants had been on the trip before and had family members join them on the experience. Each person travelling pays their own trip costs, but the expenses associated with building were entirely funded by Lethbridge trades, suppliers, developers, family, friends and staff.

“We successfully fundraised over $60,000 to build 18 homes,” says Dave Bodell, general manager at Ashcroft Homes. “We were broken up into three teams and each team would build two homes per day. Being funded by local businesses mostly, we were thrilled by the generosity of our business partners, family and friends.”

The El Salvador communities where they were building homes suffer from poverty and environmental challenges, from living in shacks held together with mud and sticks with little protection from the elements, to violence that plagues the region. Bodell says the homes they constructed will give them better protection for various situations while helping build the communities’ quality of life.

“These types of homes allow people to leave their home secured during the day and work away from the home without fear of losing everything,” says Bodell. “Although minimalist in nature and small in size, they are an incredible improvement to what they had been living in.

“This is a unique program that addresses the very basic need for shelter but does it in a way that minimizes the negative effects of charitable dependence. Each homeowner is required to put in a predetermined amount of sweat equity on many homes prior to receiving their own. This allows them to take a feeling of pride and ownership that simply giving them a home would deny them.”

During this year’s trip, the crew of workers also had the opportunity to meet with some of the families and individuals they were building homes for. During the process, they were able to understand the implications that led their country to extreme poverty, making each build more personal than they had originally thought.

“In addition to participating in the homebuilding process, we were also afforded the opportunity to sit and interview each family and better understand their unique and compelling story,” says Bodell. “This year we were building homes about 45 minutes outside of San Vicente, a city devastated by a major mud slide in 2009, making it an incredibly impoverished area. As their stories unfolded, we heard of families torn apart by the civil war in the ’80s, families destroyed by gang violence, abandonment by their own family, constant medical needs and the inexorable and constant battle with poverty. But amidst all of this we saw hope, faith and love.”

Throughout the entire experience of building homes in El Salvador, Bodell says there were so many moments that will never be forgotten and that their time spent there was very valuable to them and to the communities who received homes.

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