The Celebrating Students series provides a snapshot of McGill Mastercard Student Sponsorship recipients. The Student Sponsorship Program was launched in 1997 to give students who are involved with special campus groups or clubs an opportunity to apply for additional funding for projects carried out by their groups.
Today, the Alumni Association features Global Village:
The Global Village division of McGill Students for Habitat for Humanity Montreal participates in an international building project in Central America every year. This year, twelve McGill students travelled to Siquatepeque, Honduras to help build a house for one special family. The house was for a single mother named Rosa, and her sixteen-year old daughter, Perla. When we arrived on the site, the house had just been started. We immediately jumped in and started mixing concrete by hand to use as the foundation. Right from the start, we were struck by how quickly a process like this would occur in North America, with modern day machines and technology. However, watching the local masons gave us a great appreciation for the amount of hard work it takes to build a safe, sturdy house in Central America.
Once we finished the foundation, we were able to start building the walls. With guidance from our amazing mason Don Luis, and his assistant Gabriel, every one of us learned how to lay cinder bricks, fill them with concrete, and add in the mortar between each brick. At first, the task was slow-going, but we quickly got the hang of it. By the end of the two weeks, we had built all the walls up to window level, which was quite an accomplishment, especially considering that the house was built on a steep hill.
We had a few delays in building due to having to wait for building materials and the daily downpour in Siguatepeque. We took advantage of our time off by spending it at a nearby school playing with the children and getting to know the locals. After playing a game of soccer one morning at the school, we decided we wanted to buy new goal posts for the field, as the ones there currently, were constantly falling over. On an afternoon off, we drove to the hardware store, bought some metal posts, and with the help of our multi-talented driver, Carlos, were able to give the kids brand new nets. The looks on their faces when they saw the posts made it well worth it.
During the weekends, we explored the country! We spent a day at Tela, a beautiful beach town on the coast of the Caribbean. There, we got to walk through a jungle full of monkeys, jaguars, and panthers (luckily we only ran into the monkeys!), and then spent some time snorkelling in the reef. On another occasion, we visited Comayagua, a colonial town close to Siguatepeque. There, we learned about the history of the area, and got to watch the oldest clock in North America strike 11 o’clock. On our last day of travel, we spent a wonderful day in Copàn. We explored the Mayan ruins in the morning, and in the afternoon were able to do some souvenir shopping in the town. It was such a beautiful place; I think we all hope that we can go back there someday.
The two weeks we spent in Honduras were unforgettable. Making such an impact on a family and community was very special, and despite the language barrier, we made many genuine friendships that will last a lifetime.
Many thanks to the McGill Alumni Association for sponsoring us on this life-changing trip!
Samantha Menzies, McGill Global Village 2012 Team Leader
Photo credits: Claudia Damiano
Funds generated through the use of the McGill Mastercard support these types of student initiatives. To get yours, click here.