Building El Comedor

Buiding El Comedor (soup kitchen)

DavTee Society was instrumental in the expansion of a program in Chihuahua Mexico that feeds lunch in an impoverished area.

Chihuahua is the capital city of the State of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico. It is a desolate area with a red sand soil, periodic shrubs speckling the country side and tumble weeds rolling in the breeze. This was our first impression riding in a very old school bus anticipating our arrival to an area we had no real understanding of, or the struggles people have that live there.

In 2003 we (Teresa, myself and our children and about 20 other people) arrived in Chihuahua to assist with the construction of a new soup kitchen. Pastor Jorge (pronounced Horhay) and his wife Ana have been running a soup kitchen for many years.

Pastor Jorge & Ana

There were numerous local tradesmen working at the site when we arrived. We started with shovelling gravel, digging a hole for the septic tank, excavating trenches for footings, moving piles of sand and gravel and mixing concrete by hand on the ground, and erecting block walls. The time we spent working hand in hand with the local people was life changing for all of us. Bonds were formed and lives were changed. We started to have a glimmer of understanding the daily struggles many people around the world have that most of us do not understand.

 

 

David & Teresa building outside walls

Mike (our son) carrying dirt for the septic tank

Construction materials are only 15% less in Chihuahua than here in Grande Prairie. Labour costs on the other hand are very inexpensive. For many the lack of jobs relates into a lack of training, and an unskilled worker has very little hope of steady employment. This in turn makes it difficult to provide regular food, shelter and education for their families. Between 2002 and 2008 we traveled to Chihuahua 4 times. During these trips we helped on different phases of construction on El Comedor and the Church building. El Comedor means dining room in Spanish.

 

Gerardo is a local tradesman who we met during our first trip. We worked and laughed alongside hime through most of the different phases of contruction of El Comedor. In the beginning he was not a Christian but after seeing the love of Christ demonstrated in a practical way, he became a Christian. We were overjoyed. Gerardo is an active member of the local church at present.

Construction methods are different throughout the world, Mexico is no exception. Several of these are shown in the following pictures, some definitely not the safest practices. Not a method of supporting the forms when pouring 6” of concrete for the roof of the soup kitchen I wanted to be standing under.

Gerardo putting in tile in the bathrooms

Supports for pouring cement on the roof

Our trip in 2006 was dedicated to completing El Comedor. We were there 26 days. Once we viewed the project and were a little surprised at the amount of work left to complete to the interior before cooking meals would be possible. This did not deter us, we met with local tradesmen and workers and advised them that prior to our departure date we would be cooking the first meal in El Comedor. This was met with a little hesitation, but our dedication to serve food to the children was our driving force.

Raul was another tradesman who did odd jobs and plastering walls. We met him on our second trip to Chihuahua. Although he said his English was not good, he spoke very well. He would do some of our tanlating. He was always helpful & cheerful. Raul began to go to church and started asking many questions. In 2007 we were ecstatic to learn that Raul had accepted Christ recently!

 

Raul with Pasquel

Outside before pouring roof

Teresa & I were at the project site bright and early and worked late into the day, 6 days a week. With Sunday as our day of worship and rest.

Within the first week we had demonstrated to the workers our dedication to completing El Comedor on time and together we became one force moving the project ahead at an amazing rate. We helped in many areas, plastering, sanding, coordinating, interior design, painting, cabinet installation, and cleanup.

Interior during our first week - lots of works left to do

The last coat of paint, the last floor cleaned was 8 days prior to our departure date. The custom built stove was lit and the first meal was prepared that night by Teresa and I. It was a meal served to thank all the workers and their families who helped complete El Comedor, as well as a Mother’s Day Celebration.

Ana lighting the stove for the first time

We worked long hard days but we only have memories of laughter, & strong bonds between ourselves and the Mexican people. When we see the children eating their lunch we now understand the importance of our participation. For many this is the only meal they receive. This food saves them from scrounging for food where ever they can find it.

 

Children eating at El Comedor