We had a great time visiting our little friends at the orphanage this past May. You may see some familiar faces if you’ve been following our journey, as a few of the same children that we met last year were there.
We had originally planned to paint walls and attempted to get approval for a large mural in the back terrace. Everything in Cuba is difficult to achieve as rules change daily. The director of the orphanage asked us a few weeks before arriving if we could bring more needed supplies rather than paint as they had recently painted themselves! You can see the new bright blue walls in the photos.
There were 7 children: 5 girls and 2 boys. We brought packages for each of them including: many pairs of undies, socks, toothbrushes, raincoats, dolls for the girls, dinosaur toys and balls for the boys, hair elastics and clips, small spoons & forks for the younger kids. We also purchased a large white board that they requested to help with the children’s homework/studies! For their bedrooms, we brought a set of bedsheets for each bed. They were currently using just 1 fitted sheet on each bed, so the children didn’t have a sheet to cover themselves at night, just one to go under them. Although Cuba is a hot tropical country, it does get cool some nights. I’m hoping they enjoy the new soft sheets
This year we also choose to spend more time interacting with the children, so we requested that we stay a while and do some small crafts with them. We colored paddle-boards, played with the new toys and blew bubbles! We also left a bunch of craft supplies for them to use on other days.
Leaving is always the hardest part, because there is always at least one children that wins over my heart and I wish I could bring home with me. This time it was a little boy, who as we were waving goodbye to everyone, he ran over beside us and waved bye to his house-mates (as if he was leaving with us).
The children are happy there and the staff is so loving. They take very good care of the children and it’s always a joy to see the smiles on their faces as they receive gifts. God bless them!
Orphanages: This part of our mini missions project came unexpectedly. We were originally planning just to bring the pregnant mother bundles, however, when we were given a big donation of stuffed toys, my mother-in-law suggested we visit some orphanages. And so we did! We went to one smaller orphanage with only 5 children under the age of 5, as well as a larger orphanage with 12 children from ages 6 – 13. Luckily we were able to bring in a bunch of sunglasses (we were concerned they might get taken away at the airport – but they weren’t ..yay!!) We also brought toothbrushes, shampoo, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, the stuffed animals… As well as some crayons & puppets for the younger kids.
They were all very thankful and excited. My husband told them each how many per item to take and placed the objects on the floor. They quickly grabbed the ones they wanted and we all laughed at how fast they were reaching and pulling things into their hands. A few of the older kids had just woken from a nap and weren’t as excited as the younger ones but overall, it was a great experience. I wish in my heart that there was more I could have done for them, but as they smiled and held their new toys inspecting them closely and laughing together, I felt happy that we could give them that small gesture.
Thanks again for helping to make this project possible.
Pregnant mother bundles: we brought down 8 bundles of clothing and blankets to 8 wonderful women. We had help from the Secretary of a church in Holguin, Cuba who went out into the community before we arrived to find 8 deserving mothers. Here pictured are 6, with two missing as they were in the hospital. A few of the ladies were quite timid and nervous so I decided just to take one group photo, instead of a bunch – to respect them. My husband translated our daughter’s home birth story for them and we chatted about motherhood. He then prayed for them and for safe delivery of their babies. It was a great moment. A few of the ladies became emotional and teary as we gave them the bags of donations.
I can’t say enough thanks to everyone for helping to make this mini mission project possible.
Here are some before photos of the second home we are working on in Cuba. This home was partially destroyed in Hurricane Sandy and is in very rough condition. On this farm lives a women and her husband as well as a man with an injured leg, who they care for. The walls of their current home are made of banana and coconut leaves. The walls are extremely unstable and this house has fallen apart in many parts more then once.
We are helping to rebuild it of solid materials so if another hurricane comes, it will withstand the strong winds a lot better. So far materials of bricks, large blocks, gravel, fine gravel and iron bars have been purchased. The home owners are sourcing out a few more required materials to mix with the gravel in order to make the foundation. This home will be rebuilt from the bottom up. First the foundation will be built from the solid blocks and gravel, then walls will be contructed with the bricks. Again, in Cuba everything takes time. The required materials are expensive in the town where this home is located, so the home owners will have to travel to a place further away to find and purchase the materials with the money we donated from the winter sales. More photos will be posted, as I recieve them. Thanks again for your support!
The foundation of the house has been laid. In the photos, you can see the men unloading the bricks and starting to build up the walls of the new home. It is starting to look like a home. In Cuba, It is very hard to source materials for building, especially when you have a limited budget. They don’t have construction stores like we have here. Most of the building supplies have been purchased and transported from miles away on horse or bull, and the process to do so is very long and tiresome.
The construction of the roof has begun! They are creating two curved sections over the bedrooms. The outdoor bathroom (outhouse) has also been re-constructed out of bricks. The owners are still temporarily living in the old house, until we can finish the new brick home. Things are coming together – it won’t be long now!
With the money sent down from fall Handmade For You Love Lu sales, heavy aluminum windows and doors have been purchased for the home. In the photos, you will see pictured the home owner with her daughter and grandson. These windows are resistant to sunlight, rain, heavy winds and should last forever. In the event that another hurricane hits near their home, the house should stand firm. The windows are waiting to be transported to the house build. It is in a small counrty village outside of the main city, so the next step is to find appropriate means to transport them. Something as simple as this, is in fact very difficult in Cuba.
Some friends of ours, and supporters of this project, from Ottawa Ontario have gone down to visit the family and the home build. They’ve sent along some great photos of the most recent progress on the build.
I have incredible news! A church near to the home build we have funded has teamed up with the family to start a farming project. They have fixed up the well on the farm, and are in the process of building gardens, a chicken hut and a pig pen. The church has partnered to fund this additional farming project. They are going to continue working with the family to establish a chicken/pig project to provide food for members of the church and neighboring families.
I am so excited to hear that from the build we started, it has continued on to something new. We have helped build the new brick home for this loving family and now they are able to have farming work and an ongoing mission to help others themselves. They have gone from having very little in a small shack of a home to having a solid house that cannot be knocked down by future hurricanes, and now a business opportunity. How amazing and what a blessing. Thanks everyone again for your support through purchasing Handmade For You Love Lu products. You all helped to make this possible! How wonderful it is to see everything come together.
The finishing touches are being put on the home. In the photos, you will see workers adding a sealant to the roof so that it won’t leak when it rains! Thanks again for your support that HELPED BUILD THIS HOME!
Hi- I’m Lu, a mother of two (soon to be three!) and a wife to a handsome Cuban man. 😉 Handmade For You Love Lu was initially created to fund my first missions trip to Cuba. As I realized how much I loved crocheting the scarves and they seemed to be growing in popularity, I decided to continue with the project.