An update from Jose, SMU Habitat for Humanity president and a junior majoring in political science, economics and business, with a minor in French:

SMUHabitat61.jpg In May 2010, seven students flew to San Salvador, then drove north for two hours to a small, remote community called Gethsemane. We were accompanied by SMU Habitat for Humanity adviser Doug Reinelt, chair of the Mathematics Department in Dedman College.

About 90 families live in Gethsemane, mainly in shacks made of pieces of metal, with dirt as a floor. We were there to build two houses with Habitat for Humanity and Global Villages, which is working to build 90 houses in the community over the next three years.

SMUHabitat2.jpg Our group split into two teams of four, and we worked on two houses that already had their framework up. We put in cement blocks and sidewalks, and painted the houses – one blue, one green. Several of us also tutored children in the community’s school program. The people were very poor in financial terms, but they were so welcoming and happy to have us there.

This was our second international trip; last summer we went to Paraguay. Throughout the year, we participate in Habitat builds in North Texas, and we’re planning our next international trip.

It’s hard for all of us to fathom not having a home. It’s such a basic, important thing – the family and the community all start with a home. Building homes with Habitat for Humanity is a chance to help build a community. We gave our time and work in El Salvador, and we gained so much in return.