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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Apr. 25, 2016 4 years ago

Woman finds that building homes in Nicaragua is a learning experience

Local employee chosen to build Habitat for Humanities homes
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor
A typical Nicaraguan house is shown.

Katherine Kyle donated her time and effort April 2-10 to build homes for families in Nicaragua and came back with a special souvenir, a new attitude about life.

It’s the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where most people earn $2 per day.

There are no cars, computers or running water, and little electricity.

But during her trip with employees of Thrivent Financial to build a Habitat for Humanity home, she found herself admiring the slow pace of life and how the people have time for each other.

“They walk everywhere or ride bikes,” she said. “They talk to their neighbors.”

Kyle, who lives in Palm Coast and works as an agent for Thrivent Financial at 1452 N. U.S. 1, Suite 115, Ormond Beach, was selected to represent the Florida Georgia Region of Thrivent to build the home in Nicaragua in a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International.  She was chosen because of sales performance and volunteering activities.

Thrivent also builds and repairs Habitat for Humanity homes in the U.S., and is Habitat's largest single source of funding, excluding government funding.

Taking time for what matters

Kyle said she learned appreciation for the many conveniences Americans enjoy.

“It makes you grateful for what we have,” she said. “We don’t have to go to the river to get water. It really does humble you.”

Katherine Kyle and coworkers had to cut and bend rebar when building a Habitat for Humanity house in Nicaragua.

Now, she asks her husband to turn off the water tap when brushing his teeth, because we take water for granted

But even with their meager lifestyle, the Nicaraguan people display a wealth spirit, love and generosity, Kyle said.

“It makes me want to simplify my life and spend more time doing important things,” she said.

She said she was going to mark the calendar for days for her husband and her to just relax, and set a time to visit her grandfather who lives up north.

“I want to spend some time with people we care about,” she said. “You’re always in a rush and before you know it the years go by.”

The bare necessities

Kyle and her team mixed concrete and mortar by hand and had to twist the rebar with a hand tool. She said that on the first day, by noon, she was wondering if she was going to make it.

“It was so hot,” she said. “But the next day it got easier.”

The hotel had no hot water, but she got used to it.

“Luke-warm showers are best for you anyway,” she said.

The homes that the teams build in Nicaragua are simple, small concrete block homes, but an improvement over the makeshift wooden houses they have.

For the Habitat homes, “eco-toilets” were installed before the arrival of Kyle’s team. The toilets store sewage until it can be picked up. People cook over outdoor wood or gas stoves.

There was no newspaper, and news, such as tomatoes being on sale, was heard through a loudspeaker on a truck.

‘Like a wedding day’

Her team was efficient, and built three 150-square-foot homes in the week.

At the completion of a house, there was a party with games.

“When they got their home they were so happy,” she said. “It was like a wedding day.”

A new house calls for a celebration.

She was able to play games with the kids, such as musical chairs and piñata.

The team also took time to have fun, sampling the food in the local marketplaces and seeing the villages.

Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization that helps Christians with investments such as life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. Because it is a not-for-profit company, money that would otherwise be paid in taxes goes to charitable organizations.

Kyle’s next goal is to be a leader on a mission to another country. She has filled out an application and, if accepted, will have to go through training. Anyone interested in going on the trip may call her at 675-6838.


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