Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Pallet Home

I love a good pallet project!
And with the instant world of blogging and Pinterest 
it is easy to find all kinds of creative and inspired
Wall treatments, benches, wine racks,
book shelves, outdoor furniture,
chicken coops, headboards
and the list can go on and on!!!!
But this summer I ran across one project in particular that
humbled me to my core. 
This Summer I had the blessed opportunity to travel
with my daughter Madison to serve at a Orphan Care Ministry 
Back to Back in Mazatlan Mexico.
While in Mazatlan we primarily worked 
with three childrens homes.  However, one day our team had the
opportunity  to partner with a local church that worked in
the local "squatters village" called Las Vegas.  

Our job was to help a family build a roof for an addition to their home.

Just the size of the village was slightly overwhelming.  

Hundreds of homes where spaced out on make shift grids, including
streets with small fenced in yards and 
limited electricity (enough to occasionally light a single bulb).

It was explained that this land is often owned by the government, who 
at a whim could demand the village to 
be disassembled uprooting hundreds of families.
The home owners we were working with
explained that a property was rarely left without someone
"guarding" the property.  A property left unguarded
could be claimed by another family with out any recourse by the law.  

When we arrived to the home we were working on,
 we broke up into teams, each with a different job.
Some of the team began building the actual structure
to support the new roof.  

Another team began digging holes for the poles that will eventually
support the walls of the home.

Digging holes was a continuous theme across our entire week!
The ground is solid in Mazatlan!

The night before we came, the home owner stayed up for hours
taking apart countless pallets.
One of our teams had the job of removing all the nails
from the pieces of pallets. 

Everything from these pallets was saved 
to be used, including the old nails.

Some of the smaller pieces will be used to heat
the fire needed to cook food.

You can see the finished stack of wood
in the photo above.  Most of this wood
will be used to build the wall of the new room.

This is a photo of me (on the right), 
 the home owner Lilly (in the center) and a 
wonderful team member Susie (in pink on the left).
Thankfully, Susie spoke fluid Spanish and was
able to act as interpreter between Lilly and me. 

Above is a photo of Lilly's front yard.
She like many of the family's living in this squatters
village keeps a very clean yard.
Lilly grows different varieties of local food
and some of the most beautiful flowers.
Her husband works in construction, taking what ever 
jobs he can to support the family.
She has 4 children.
If you look at the yard, notice the tarp with photos
of what looks to be chefs, behind this tarp is
her outdoor (only) kitchen.

Looking at the photo above, you can see the
piles of pallets in front of what is
a tarp covered and walled 10 x 10 room.
The addition is being built in what we might
have considered the back yard.
The addition will more that double the size
of the house.
Lilly explained to us just what this addition 
meant to her family.

The size of her current home is just not big enough
to house her entire family. 
At night her two older boys have to leave
to sleep with another family.
This addition will allow the family to stay together!

This is the view of the current house from the back side.
Notice how the walls are constructed:

Sticks and cardboard.
Meaning when it rains the cardboard gets wet,
making it necessary to replace often.
Also, it is hot in Mazatlan, very hot.
The cardboard does not allow for air circulation
with in the house.

The new walls will be made of pallets!
Yes, pallets!
Remember the stack of wood in the front yard
that we removed the nails from,
Those pieces of wood will be nailed
in between the openings of the pallet walls.
These new walls will allow both
water tightness and air circulation!  

You can kind of see from this side view how the walls
will go up.  The open slats will be filled in with
the wood from the stack.

By the end of our day the new roof was up!

Instead of a tarp, this new roof is made of a light weight 
waterproof plastic.

I wish our team could have returned to help put up the walls,
but I trust the next team will come and
make Lilly's dream a reality!

I learned something that week about 
I am thankful that my whole family
can all sleep together under the same roof!
I am thankful for a dry place to call home.
A kitchen where I don't have to stoke a fire in order to eat.
I am thankful knowing that if I
run an errand I will return to home that is
still here, not bulldozed down by the government,
not invaded by another family.
I am thankful for the access to electricity
which provides light, heat in the winter
and air in the summer.
I am thankful for running water...
and my list could go on and on,,,

But just as importantly, I am thankful
for the opportunity Madison and I had to experience
Mazatlan from the side of the orphans
and meeting Lilly!  
Knowing she is a mom just like me.
She loves her children and husband.
She takes pride in her small piece of living space.
She grows food and beautiful flowers, something
that I have never quite succeeded in doing!
She is generous (sending food home with us!)
She works hard everyday!
She, like me, is afraid of snakes!

Her house might be built of pallets,
but her heart is made of gold!