True-Lines provides homes, skills for El Salvadorans
Sue Neufeld has put roofs over the heads of a lot of people.
But the co-owner of Red Deer’s True-Line Homes hasn’t seen many as grateful to receive their keys as those she helped house in January.
Neufeld led a team to El Salvador, where they built 10 homes for impoverished residents and provided them with food, clothing, medicine and other essentials.
A second True-Line delegation is scheduled to duplicate the feat this month, and materials will be left for the construction of 10 more houses — for a total of 30.
The need for housing in the Central American country is critical, said Neufeld.
Earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters have deprived many Salvadorans of adequate shelter, while others were displaced by a 12-year civil war that ended a decade ago.
Many people live in mud huts that are prone to insect infestations and collapse.
Their response to receiving a dry, secure home from the Albertans was overwhelming, said Neufeld.
“One lady we built for, she just walked around the job site with tears in her eyes.
“She was a single mom with four kids, and she was just beside herself. She didn’t know how to thank us.”
The houses are very modest by Canadian standards.
Measuring less than 400 square feet, each of the galvanized metal structures has two bedrooms, a common area and a covered porch.
They have no power or running water, but should withstand severe weather and earthquakes, and prevent the entry of harmful insects.
Neufeld was motivated to help after participating in a charitable trip to El Salvador one year ago. Organized through World Partners, a charity of the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, it involved the construction of houses and the provision of other assistance for people in need.
Neufeld vowed to raise $100,000 to fund 30 more houses at $3,000 each, with the remaining $10,000 to be provide food.
Donations came from Central Alberta businesses and individuals, and in January a dozen volunteers — including Neufeld and seven other True-Line representatives — headed south.
The next contingent, which will also include a large component of True-Line staff, will travel to El Salvador in 2 1/2 weeks to build 10 more houses.
Salvadorans will be left with the skills and materials to construct the final 10.
Neufeld said the initiative was ideal for her and her company.
“It just made perfect sense to go and work on a project down there and use the skills we have to build the houses.”
Many of those who took part in the humanitarian trip are eager to return, said Neufeld, and more fundraising is underway.
Information about the home-building project in El Salvador can be found on Facebook (TrueLineElSalvadorProject), YouTube (watch?v=rqkfs4eiHNE) or by calling Kristen McDonald at True-Line at 403-588-0288.