HFHI Global Village, Amarante, Portugal – Work Day 3

By the end of day three we can usually see a lot of progress made on the house and this build is no different. There are two areas of the house out team is helping to construct so far; the septic system and insulating the walls.

Thankfully the pit behind the house for the septic system had already been dug. Most of us know firsthand what back-breaking work this can be. So, when we could jump right into constructing the cinder block walls we were elated. There are two tanks in this underground system, one for gray water and one for solid and liquid waste. When it gets close to full, the municipality comes to pump it out.

We found out that a number of the neighbors were against Habitat even constructing the septic system because they were worried that Celeste couldn’t afford to have it pumped and then it would become a smelly problem. Of course this wasn’t okay with Habitat, arguing that every homeowner should have a bathroom and proper sanitation. Thankfully with Habitat’s help Celeste was able to apply for a grant so that whenever the septic tank needs attention all she needs to do is call and it will be taken care of. Everyone wins.

The second job we’ve been chipping away at is insulating the exterior walls. The first step is to cover the concrete block with 3 inch thick Styrofoam. The pieces adhere to the wall with a thick paste. Next, plastic nails with special plastic washers are nailed into the corners to ensure the Styrofoam doesn’t move. Next, a thin layer of more plaster adhesive is applied so that a plastic mesh netting can be applied that covers all the Styrofoam. Finally, two more coats of plaster are applied and then the walls are painted.

We’ve also been lucky that two of Celeste’s daughters, Diana (who lives with her) and Annabella have been with her the past two days. They are quite shy and have reticence about interacting with us. However, today they were both hanging around both inside and outside sewing something that didn’t look familiar to us. Turns out they were doing piece work, making shoes, for extra income.

They were stitching by hand the tough leather that would become the upper of a pair of men’s shoes. The manufacturer hires them to do the piece work, and when they turn it in they get paid. Most of the finished products will be exported for sale. So, then next time you buy a pair of Tommy Hilfiger loafers or Lacoste wing-tips you might consider the low wage worker overseas, sewing your shoes by hand on their front porch.

One thought on “HFHI Global Village, Amarante, Portugal – Work Day 3

  1. A very special kind of pit crew – way to go habitat for making sure Celeste had a proper system and a way to care for it!

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