Day Six: The Families Get Their Homes
The key ceremony was originally planned to take place on the newly cleaned beach, but an overnight rain storm flooded it so the ceremony was moved to the school. With over 200 volunteeer participants, including LiveDifferent volunteers, plus about 400 community members, the streets were crowded. I expect more of the residents of Aguas Negras showed up after we departed for the cake that was on offer as part of the dedication ceremony.
Each family received their key to their new home at the ceremony from each of the team captains. I cannot begin to express how moving this was. The language barrier didn't prevent us from understanding the feelings of love, thanks and pure joy in the community, which now wants to be called Nuevo Renacer (New Life).
I can tell you, however, that they gave more to us then we to them.
James Bazely, co-chair of the OHBA Humanitarian Build, addresses the crowd at the key ceremony as Nettie Brown, left, and OHBA president Doug Tarry listen.
Leslie Memme (husband Mike is president of Mountainview Homes) spoke on behalf of the mothers, bringing here children, Matthew and Alex onto stage with her. The speech was also translated into Spanish so the community could understand, too.
“We've met many moms and kids over the past few days. You've opened your arms and homes to us, your kids took us by the hand and led us through the streets. They shovelled with smiles, they giggled when they passed buckets and they smiled.
“Your families showed us a lot of strength.
“Thank you for welcoming us into this beautiful community. You are a inspiration to all of us.
Canadian Ambassador Todd Kuiack spoke in both English and Spanish.
“I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here,” he said to about 600 people gathered for the key ceremony. “I have the distinct honour to represent Canada here. It is a privilege to represent these 200 Canadians, as well as the 800,000 Canadians that come here every year.
“I didn't do enough (on this build) but I will do more.”
Keys represent a important element to these families – safety. At night, Nuevo Renacer changes from the warm, welcoming community we witnessed, to a more menacing place where crime is rampant and women and children are not safe. Being able to lock your door and sleep without fear is something we take for granted, but is a luxury to many of these families.
Kuiack is right: This was a privilege beyond description.
And here, are the deserving families, in alphabetical order:
More later on my conversation with the ambassador and a report on the pig program.