smiles, handshakes & hugs

Friendship knows no borders.
Even the language barrier, between English and Spanish, is easily overcome when you are building homes in the El Salvador countryside for Shelter Canada.
Doug Kuyvenhoven, executive vice president for Royal Homes, knows this well. He and a local Shelter Canada worker named Mario helped Team Wingham put up 40 homes over two weeks in February.
Smiles, handshakes and hugs got to be their tools of communication.
“Mario and I got to be good friends,,” said Kuyvenhoven, after returning home to Wingham from his second yearly trip to the Central American nation to volunteer with Shelter Canada.
“It was hard to say goodbye at the end of the week.”
Kuyvenhoven said the El Salvador volunteers and staff worked incredibly hard and Shelter Canada was very well-organized with materials waiting for the workers at the various sites.
Royal Homes donated $15,200 to this year’s Shelter Canada building projects, costing about $3,800 each. Shelter Canada has built more than 5,000 safe homes while spreading the Gospel in El Salvador.
The volunteers work alongside locals to assemble prefabricated wall sections, install exterior steel, roof trusses, and lockable doors and windows.
A local crew comes after to form and pour the concrete floor.
Key ceremonies,, hugs and happy faces follow.
Kuyvenhoven will eagerly join Shelter Canada’s Team Wingham again for a third time next year.
“The experience is life-changing,” he said.
One completed house, built for a sugar cane-worker and single mom named Wendy, brought tears of joy. No longer will rain drip through her roof onto her bed while she sleeps.
“It’s a 20-foot-by-20-foot castle to her and her son,” Kuyvenhoven said. “She just wept.”

Doug Kuyvenhoven (right), Royal Homes executive VP, building homes for Shelter Canada with new friend Mario (left), a local worker in El Salvador. Palmerston’s George Baarda, a Team Wingham volunteer, looks on. Top photo: Doug Kuyvenhoven (left) and Mario.


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