NEWS | Sept. 15, 2009

JTF-Bravo, Habitat for Humanity Honduras build homes for La Paz families

By Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Twenty volunteers from Joint Task Force-Bravo met in the La Paz area Sept. 12 to help Habitat for Humanity Honduras work on two families' homes.

"Each project JTF-Bravo helps with saves the families about $200," said Army Capt. Diana Parzik, volunteer coordinator for the project. "And that equates to about two or three months of mortgage payments for the families."

"Habitat does not give homes away," said Ramiro Martinez, Habitat for Humanity Honduras coordinator. "In addition to an initial fee and monthly payments, the families work hundreds of hours in labor on their homes."

And that's where the JTF-Bravo volunteers played their part.

"The work the volunteers from base do is very important for the families," he said. "The labor these volunteers are doing today saves the family a lot of money and extra man-power hours."

JTF-Bravo members have been working with Habitat since March 28, and since then they have helped Habitat with a total of 11 houses in La Paz and Comayagua, Captain Parzik said.

"It was a lot of fun helping with the build today," said Airman 1st Class Kristen Olson, JTF-Bravo Medical Element. "I wanted to volunteer and get the chance to really connect with what we are doing here in the community. This was a great experience, and I have more of an appreciation for why we're here."

The homes for these builds are developed in relatively safe areas, Mr. Martinez said. Each home includes a living area, dining room, two bedrooms and a bathroom, running water, a small front porch and screened windows for added protection from insects.

According to the Census Bureau about 63 percent of Honduras lives in poverty with a housing deficit of about 1,150,000 homes, and that's increasing by about 30,000 every year.

Habitat for Humanity Honduras is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1989, Mr. Martinez said. The organization works with families to build houses and offers all Hondurans the opportunity to own a home.

Since then Habitat for Humanity Honduras has helped build more than 80,000 homes throughout Honduras, he said. And the Habitat in this area has helped about 1,600 families build their own homes.

"The work the volunteers are doing here today is priceless," Mr. Martinez said. "Today they will be helping these families build the foundation to their homes."