Volunteer Blog - Positively Shaping the Future with PSF by Michaela Duffy and Tom Lane
February 01, 2011
For me the highlight of our trip around South America so far has been our two weeks volunteering for Pisco Sin Fronteras. We had an unbelievable opportunity to help a very special family, one who we will never forget and will really really try to visit again in the future...
Whilst at PSF I worked on a few different projects, playing with kids in a local playgroup funded by PSF, making toys for Christmas from scrap wood and metal, teaching english to local fishermen etc. But for the vast majority of our time there both myself and Tom worked on a site helping a local family rebuild their lives.
The family was the Hugo family. Their house and small shop had been flattened in the earthquake in 2007. Since then they have been saving to afford enough materials to rebuild but could not afford to pay for the labour. So PSF were there to help, offering highly skilled free labour - US!!!
Jose Hugo (or Papa as I called him by the end of our time there!!) was the head of the family and clearly a man who was working extremely hard to provide for his family and make a future for them. He currently lives in a make shift house beside the site we were building on. The house was made of bamboo and tarp and was filled with, what looked like, things they managed to rescue from their previous home.
He was a man of few english words and our spanish isn´t that hot, but the relationship we built over the two weeks of working for him and his family meant at their end we didn´t want to leave.
Jose was there every morning greeting us with a smile and gratitude that "The Irish", myself, Tom and our leader Emmett (who handed over leadership to Tom in the second week) had turned up again to help him build! Over the two weeks we mixed mortar, layed bricks for all his internal walls, dug trenches and poured concrete for his floors and columns. And generally had a great days craic with him.
His daughter, Pillar, would also be on site helping out were she could and running to her sisters at 2.00pm everyday to pick us up some fantastic lunch made by her sister, Chara and Mum. They even made me a special soup on the day I was sick and Pillar came to the hospital with me to translate the "difficult impatient Cuban Doctor" spanish into "simpilar spanish that Michaela could understand", i.e. she would say a sentence twenty different ways until I got it!!!
To be honest at the beginning of the two weeks I questioned why PSF were helping Jose´s family when there were many families much worse off than them. But the more I thought about it the more I concluded that everyone has the right to a good standard of living. Some might be on the very bottom rung of the ladder and some might have worked up a few rungs through hard work, but they are all still at the bottom of the ladder and still deserve help. Jose had worked extremely hard to save and buy the materials for his house and shop and with them he will be able to provide a secure and better future for his family and I feel very honoured to have been able to help him do that.
Before we left we made a quick dash to the printers to buy Jose a sign for the front of his shop as a leaving present. They named it ´Tienda D´Chin´ after his son who had died when he was only 7. He invited us back to see the finished shop and get some free beer woohoooo!! Hopefully we can make it back some day. PSF is doing great work in Pisco and long may it continue. The drive and enthusiasm of the volunteers there was inspiring. PSF is a great acronym for Positively Shaping the Future.They improve they future living standards for so many in Pisco but also shape the lives of so many volunteers who pass through the organisation.
Muchas Gracias y Bueno Suerte por la futura...
Michaela and Tom
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