Today was our first day of building! Here’s a rough schedule of our daily routine:
6:00 AM: wake up and get ready for the day!
6:30 AM: morning mass
7:15 AM: breakfast
8:00 AM: arrive at work site and begin unloading supplies
12:00 PM: lunch
1:00 PM: back to work site/resume work
5:00 PM: wrap up and begin loading supplies/cleaning up
6:00 PM: dinner
8:30 PM: reflection
10:30 AM: bed time (psh.. more like 2AM+ for me, Joanne BAMF Wu)
We got to the work site a little after 8. It was the first time that I saw the concrete base that we would be building a house for five on. It was about the size of my garage. We were to construct the walls with garage door panels and re-use old doors and windows. I was told that the concrete base and recycled windows and doors were considered luxury compared to many of the other homes but I couldn’t help feeling like I wasn’t giving this family enough. At one of the all hands meetings one of the Fathers talked about his experience growing up with his 6 brothers and having to share a 7 bunk bunked bed and right before I left for Tijuana, my Grandmother and I were talking and she told me how in Hong Kong it is fairly common for two people to share one bed – one person working a day shift and sleeping at night and the other working a night shift and sleeping during the day. I, along with many of the youth in my generation, are fortunate to have grown up in entirely different circumstances but with this good fortune comes a sort of ignorance and unfamiliarity with the tribulations of growing up in such conditions. It was unbelievably eye-opening for us to gain awareness of the fact that there are still plenty of people in the world living in poverty.
Next door to the building site there lived a family with a few children. One of the children, a young boy named Damien, was usually out in front of his house playing with his few toys. Even though this boy didn’t own a lot of material goods he still ran around with a huge grin on his face. It made me reflect on how materialistic society has become and how obsessed we are with getting rich that we have become less mindful and appreciative of the more meaningful intangible things.
We did quite a lot of moving heavy objects. I am by no means strong but when a whole bunch of not incredibly strong teenagers work together the task at hand becomes much easier. Adding to this teamwork spiel: at the end of the work day we were told to move all of the 2×4’s and materials inside the gate. I groaned and complained in my head but then Denise mentioned something about working together and when we all pitched in we were able to finish in five minutes!
There were times throughout the day when I wanted to sit down and rest but I thought about what Melissa and Denise said about not being able to finish their respective houses their first years and I was motivated to get up and work, work, work!
We put up three walls and a room today! I was a little unsure about my ability to hammer and engage in other constructing activity but I’d say I did a decent job for my first day. The only irksome part of the work day was having to strip all of the garage doors of metal because it was time consuming and time is precious when you’re trying to construct a house in five days.
During tonight’s reflection, John Moore told us that within a 6 mile radius there live 4.5 million people. The reason being that the factories in Tijuana offer $10 a day – double the normal wage elsewhere. Although I’m glad that these people are earning more to provide for their families I am also saddened by the idea that $10 a day for intense labor is considered a lot. At home I earn $8 an hour for sitting on my butt and monitoring (basically looking at) a pool. I feel guilty that my life is so much easier and confused as to why I am so fortunate while others are not but I am most importantly refreshed with a new appreciation for my lot in life.
John also told us how during the peak of the drug wars, someone murdered a drug cartel’s daughter and in retaliation someone else killed 50 or so people and hung their bodies up on the highway to evoke fear in the civilians. I was shocked to hear about that as I was ignorant to the fact that such atrocities still occur.
To wrap up reflection, Father O taught us a Spanish song called “La Guadalupana.” The two verses we learned and their translations follow:
Desde el cielo
Una Hermosa manana
Bajo al tepeyac
On a beautiful morning Lady Guaddalupana descended at Tepeyac
Para el mexicano
From that time on, the Mexican’s love for Lady Guadalupana was essential.
On a sillier note:
- Ulric used lotion as toothpaste this morning
- First injury – a splinter from carrying wood without my gloves on
- Second injury – having a garage door drop on my fingers
- Teamwork is essential!
- Once again: Appreciate!! I cannot stress this enough. Such an eye opening first day.
- I shouldn’t underestimate my abilities! My mindset and attitude are my biggest obstacles. I’ve been working on throwing myself into new opportunities and not worrying about the repercussions.