The Wolverines, based out of Bay Roberts, travelled from March 4-12.
During their time in the city of Antigua, 10 members of the Wolverines Search and Rescue group, along with two leaders, helped build homes, and provide for the community in any way they could.
Perry Bowering, a member of the Wolverines, says the entire experience was something he’ll never forget.
The Wolverines have been sponsoring a girl, Juana, from Antigua for the last nine years. Juana is now 13-years-old.
During the trip, the Wolverines got the chance to meet Juana for the first time. Bowering says that this is one of the main reasons the Wolverines decided to make the trip.
“When we met (Juana’s) family, we asked her mom if there was anything she needed. She told us Juana would like to have a new bike,” said Bowering. “So, we went to a really nice store in Antigua to pick up a brand new bike. A couple days later, we got to go right to her house before she left for school. When she came out through the door, we presented her with her new bike. She was beyond excited.”
The group built eight houses during their stay in the Central American country.
The homes were built with what the people of Guatemala know as plyrock, which Bowering explained to be a cross between plywood and gyprock.
“It’s not what you’d expect for a house around here,” said Bowering. “The way it’s built is more like what we’d look at as a shed, but to them, it’s a mansion.”
The houses, once built, would also be furnished by the Wolverines, followed by a blessing, which involved a select few verses from the Bible, and some words on behalf of the family. Each home built was given a cross, upon which the name of the family was written, along with the person, people, or business that sponsored building the home.
Along with the houses, the Wolverines also took part in a foot washing ceremony. During this ceremony, members of the Wolverines sat down with a child to wash their feet in a pan of water. After the washing, the children were presented with new pairs of socks and a new pair of leather shoes.
“In order to attend a public school, you need to have a pair of shoes, which not everyone there has,” explained Bowering. “So if you only have a couple pairs of shoes between a big family, some kids will go to school in the morning with a pair of shoes, come home, and give them to one of their siblings so that they could go to school in the afternoon.”
At the end of the week, 80 children had new shoes.
Arms of Jesus, an evangelical ministry based out of Ontario, made hampers of food for the Wolverines to give to the people of Antigua as well. Bowering said these hampers, weighing in at around 60-70 pounds each, fed 35 families. Along with this, the Wolverines brought 32 hockey bags filled with supplies including medicine, clothing, school supplies and sheets for their beds.
Bowering said the work the Wolverines did is likely to have a long-lasting impact on the people of Antigua, explaining that once you leave the main part of the city, a lot of residents are in dire straits. Many lived under tin houses or tarps, cooking over open flames inside their shelters, and sharing single beds with up to four or five people.
Bowering said that although an exact date is not set in stone, the Wolverines plan to head back to Guatemala sometime in 2019.