"I was number 13 of 15 kids. I grew up in a little town called Monkey River Town, southern Belize. One of the my earliest childhood memories was of my aunt, who didn't really have any legs - no, she did have legs, but being of Indian decent (not Mayan, but from India) she was very short and had really long hair. When she sat on a stool, which is what we considered a Kneading Bowl, made from the buttress root of a tree, her skirt covered up her legs. I thought for the life of me my aunt had no legs! she was very fond of me - of all 15 kids I was the favorite.
One day my aunt passed away and I didn't quite understand that. I didn't know where she went, I had no clue. All I knew was my aunt wasn't in that stool and my name wasn't called any more.
What happened next was kinda serious. The house that we were living in at the time belonged to my aunt. When she passed away, it was taken from us...nothing seemed to make any sense as far as I can remember with the exception of trying to find a place to live.
My mom, being as industrious as she was, put her pride aside and asked a family friend if we could borrow her house for a little bit. So we moved into the downstairs section of her house - we didn't have any beds, we just slept all over the floor. So, my mom and dad acquired a house and worked on it. Even though we had a small farm, ti seems like trying to provide food and build a house at the same time was just more than anyone could handle. The farm had to be abandoned until the house was built - nothing really mattered to my parents except building a house. My dad and some of his friends and my mom built the house we call home. And if you think the house that we are doing this week [Herlin's House] is tiny, you wait! I grew up in a house that was 14 feet long and 16 feet wide - two bedroom's, one for my parents and the rest of us all in one room or out on the floor for what we called field day. But to us that was our home, and could never be taken away. When you live in those kinds of conditions, you can't stop to think about hte other basic human needs...if you don't have shelter, food, clothing, nothing else really matters. Because there is just so much that any one human being is gonna be able to take.
So, for a long time, until we got that house done, all of my mom's effort, all my older sibling effort, all our friends effort was put into that house. It wasn't fancy but it was a place that nobody would kick us out of.
After that house was finished we went back to what we would normally do - we went back to the fields, back to fishing in the river. Providing food became natural to us again because we had shelter, and I want to tell you something: I can only imagine what this young lady [Herlin] is going through with her four kids and I don't know where her shelter would have come from if you guys [PCH & KCH] hadn't come this week to help me put that house up. I do what I do because I've walked in some of those shoes. I just want to say thank you guys for coming - I may be tough, and I'm sorry - but I wanted that house finished! The girl needs a home and those kids need a home. Now she can go about and provide the food. Thank you!