BY MICHAEL ELLIS
With today’s overwhelming negative news feeds, do you find yourself wishing the world was a better place where we shine a light on the people who champion kindness and support well outside of their comfort zones? Recently a group of Wash Park and Denver moms set out to Brazil to demonstrate that anyone can change the world…one person at a time.
Lead by Danielle Vitale, these women took ten days out of their busy lives to donate their time for Global Habitat for Humanity in Brazil. These women set out to renovate homes in a town called Vila Esperanca in Bahia, Brazil. Brazil has 300M people and 100M of these citizens are either homeless or live in inappropriate conditions. This problem feels overwhelming to solve, but they soon found out the amazing impact of seventeen women with a chisel, shovel, and a hammer.
In less than two weeks, five groups of three to five moms worked tirelessly to renovate five different homes in the village. The work was strenuous due to the fact that electricity was expensive and limited. Therefore, 99% of the work was done by hand. Danielle describes, “We were often chiseling tile, a wall, or a strip to insert electrical wire. We made massa (cement) using only a shovel, sand and buckets. It was a labor of love for all of us as we stood soaking in sweat, covered in cement and dirt, but working away so we could just complete that one last task assigned to us.”
These strong women learned quickly that you can build a relationship with a family, a child or a mason – after only five days, not letting the language barrier be any kind of hindrance. This connection is one of the most priceless parts of these Habitat for Humanity trips. When 17 women of privilege walk into a small community you can read the skepticism on the faces of the locals. Can these women really pull this type of laborious work off? The short answer is yes. The work is not for the faint of heart, but made easy through many moments of laughter through mistakes and incredible delight at accomplishing what feels like the impossible. Danielle recalls one of her favorite moments when their mason took a picture of the first of many walls they built. Clearly he was proud and possibly shocked at quality of work.
When they were not working they seized the opportunity to visit the local school. Filling the void any mom feels while they are away from their own kids, they played soccer with the kids and watched in awe as the children attempted to define the rules of the game. Their faces are filled with curiosity, trying to figure out exactly who these Americans were, who traveled so far to help us build homes. Just 17 Denver moms wanting to make the world a better place one person at a time.
If this experience speaks to you, Danielle is a passionate team leader who intends to lead Global Habitat trips forever around the world. Some will include sons and daughters (kids need to be 16). She may even invite the husbands at some point. Please feel free to reach out to her if you are interested and she can add you to her trip list (firstname.lastname@example.org).