Stories of Homes, Stories of Hope
Ms. Etta’s House, Build date: January 2012
As told by Joe Biba, Founder
The first year I volunteered, we built a house for Ms. Etta and her grandson at the very base of a mountain. I mean, literally—20 feet from her house, the ground went straight up.
We hand-carried about 4,000 pounds of materials from the road, over a machete-cut path through 150 yards of jungle, to an opening so rocky, it was a miracle that no one twisted an ankle.
Neighbors came like out of the trees to help us.
We left Ms. Etta with a 12’x16’ wood-sided, tin-roofed house, typical of the houses we build to this day. Simple and affordable, clean and dry.
But what lit my fire to build Creators of Hope was what I saw when we returned to visit Ms. Etta, year two.
Knowing where we started, I couldn’t believe my eyes as we pulled up. The property’s transformation over the course of a single year was astonishing.
I stood with amazement and tears rolling down my cheeks as I witnessed the amount of human dignity and self-pride that we helped restore to Ms. Etta.
She had transformed the house into a beautiful castle. Hacked an area about 400 feet square clear with machetes. Painstakingly cleared all those ankle-breaking rocks.
Ms. Etta had stacked those rocks to build about 500 feet of fence, about 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall.
Banana trees had been planted in rows and displayed the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.
From that point, I knew that I needed to continue to provide this kind of opportunity to as many as I could.
I always had this deep desire to help inside of me, yet never knew where or how to utilize it. The gift Ms. Etta gave me was showing me the way, by allowing me to be a part of helping her.
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