A roof for my country

What are you doing normally at the weekend after a long hard week at work in Brazil? Make a trip to one of the beautiful beaches!? Go out with some friends for clubing and spend the most of the time in bed to relax and recover!? Or go in a Favela and spend the whole weekend for building a house for a poor family! I decided to do the last, renounced to have some rest but invest my time and power to do something good!

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Together with around 600 volunteers we met in Sao Paulo for a briefing. At this weekend there should be build 60 new houses for the poorest of the poor in 6 different Favelas of Sao Paulo. We’ve been divided in a big group of around 100 people who work in one Favela and then in 10 smaller groups of 10 people who were going to build one house. By bus they brought us to the Favela, but first to the place where we were going to stay at night, in a school. There we prepared our night camp on the cold and hard floor in one of the class rooms. Another briefing took some time so we could go to our very comfortable bed at 2:30am. 3 hours and 25min later the woke us up for a small breakfast and than we went to the house of the family, which should be the owner of a new and stable house soon.

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I have seen some very poor neighborhoods out of the window of a bus, but I’ve never been really inside. Plus most of the house I have seen very build of stone, but what I saw there was hard to believe. The Favela was on the foot of a mountain which had on the other side a very nice park and cable railway to the top. This is Brazil – rich people on the one side of the mountain, the poor people on the other side. Welcome to reality! People lived in houses made of wood and trash. In a house of maybe 15qm and 2 rooms are living sometimes more than 6 people… Our family was living in this kind of pothole too. A couple of maybe 50 years, their two 10 and 12 year old sons and the grandmother. They were super happy to see us and soon we started to work for the next 12 hours. Our goal was to finish the ground floor of the house. Which means that we had to put 15 pillars into the ground and than put 3 panels of a total size of 18qm on it. The work was pretty hard, because some of the holes for the pillars needed to have a deep of 150cm because our ground had a different altitude. The sun was burning at we sweat a lot to finish our task of the day. Other families of the neighborhood were cooking for us the food we delivered them, that we could have a lunch which was giving us enough power to achieve our goal.

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Later at the day it started to rain that we sticked pretty much in the red mud, but finally we finished the ground floor. We went back to the school for dinner and everyone was very tired. After a reflection session we went to bed at around 12 and we slept so deep, that even the hard cold floor was not bothering us anymore.

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At the next day we realized, that we worked very hard the day before, because everything hurt a lot. But there was o space for complaining, we wanted to finish our house. The walls have been prefabricated, which saved a lot of time building the house. Unfortunately it started to rain again, but this time the whole day. Damned the whole week there was sun, and when we want to build the house it rains! But even that couldn’t demotivate us and around 4pm we celebrated the “Richtfest” which is actually a German tradition, that if you finish the basic construction of the roof, you put a tree on the roof and celebrate… There was not enough time for celebration, but at least I found a tree…

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Finally we finished the house at around 6 and everyone was very exhausted. But when the family got presented the house and had tears in their eyes, that was just a emotional moment which compensated all the hours of hard work. They’ve been so happy! There were laughing, celebrating, crying at the same time. But our task was done. Now its time for the family for using this as a new start in a bit better life.

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We went back to Sao Paulo by midnight. I was so dead that I couldn’t manage to get a shower (after 2 days without) and I just have fallen in my bed and slept immediately. The next day I needed almost 1 hour in the bathroom, because I had dirt everywhere, even at places I was not guessing that its possible to get dirt there 😀 My body was still feeling weak and I went to work totally tired instead of recovered. But in my heart I was feeling great! With the help of  volunteers and me we could give a family a new house and hope of a better life…

More pictures can be found here in the gallery.

Reisevorbereitung

Mathias Written by:

One Comment

  1. 3. November 2011
    Reply

    It’s amazing that you decide to use your free-time for helping poor people. Definitely should be awesome to see them cry of happiness once they get the newly built house. Congratulations!

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