FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS BUILD A HOME OVERSEAS
JONATHAN HAMELIN, REGINA LEADER-POST
While breaking down concrete with pickaxes, shovelling out dirt to make trenches, mixing concrete with shovels, carrying five-gallon buckets of water and concrete and lifting bricks, Mark Stefan and his daughter Nicole bonded.
It seems like an uncommon father-daughter bonding activity, and indeed it is. From Feb. 17-25, the Stefans were among six father-daughter duos that travelled to El Salvador and started building a home in the municipality of San Vicente. The trip was run through Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program, and the organization notes the father-daughter twist had never been done before.
"It just kinda solidified how close we actually are," says Nicole, 20, a University of Regina arts education student. "My No. 1 thing I learned about my dad is he is so hardworking. I've always known my dad was hardworking, but it was more in the office situation. Just seeing him with a pickaxe just giving 'er was unbelievable."
Five of the father-daughter pairs came from Regina, with the remaining residing in Calgary. Each person had to raise around $2,500 to go on the trip.
"You can't replace the 10 days that we spent with each other. It's just an excellent opportunity to get to know each other even better than you did before," says Mark, 50, an investment adviser with RBC Dominion Securities.
The group stayed at a type of bed and breakfast during the trip. Supported by a mason and his two assistants, they worked eight-hour days to help build a house for a woman named Maria, who was living in a tin shack with dirt floors, no roof and an outdoor sink. There were no power tools available.
"The phrase I've been using is that it was psychically exhausting, but emotionally invigorating," Mark says.
Nicole had previously gone on a humanitarian trip to Tijuana, Mexico, while Mark had always wanted to go on such a venture. It was the first experience like this they could share together.
When they weren't working, they had a chance to be a part of the community and bond with the fellow members of the trip, some of whom they already knew.
Dennis Coutts, CEO for Habitat for Humanity Regina Inc., hopes the project can expand nationally and internationally and add more participants in the future.
For Mark and Nicole, it was an experience they'll never forget and one they'd like to repeat in the future. During a layover on the return home, the two spent two hours walking around the airport and talking about their experience.
"My one comment when people ask,
'How was your trip?' is 'You can't describe it,'" Nicole says. "You
can't describe the heat, the hard work and the people that you meet. You
have to go."
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