The open house was a wonderful celebration!
The following is written by Adelle McDaniel, the Trees, Water & People National Intern, after traveling to the Pine Ridge Reservation. The reason for her trip was to help prepare the finishing touches on the Compressed Earth Block home before giving it to the Shields Family.
Traveling up to Pine Ridge Reservation for the very first time, I had a lot of questions. Statistics about poverty, living conditions, and health tumbled around my head; I could (and did) rattle them off to anyone who asked where I was going for the weekend. But at that point, I didn’t really know where I was going for the weekend. I didn’t even really know what I was doing when I got there.
When Richard, Trees,Water & People’s Executive Director, pulled up next to a newly built, sustainable Compressed Earth Block (CEB) house on the reservation and I hopped out, the latter question was quickly answered. I would be helping to clean, organize, and prepare the building for the open house the following day. More importantly, I would be part of giving the gift of a home. The three bedroom earthen block home features solar-heated floors and forced air, a PV system on the roof, and one happy family inside. Very little is more rewarding than making others happy. Knowing that you created a safe, beautiful place for a family to spend their years, though, far surpasses that.
It was more than a privilege to be included in the occasion. I couldn’t begin to choose my favorite moment from the weekend. Would it be shaking hands with the new owners, seeing tears in their eyes? Sharing laughs and meals and work with the other volunteers and gaining a new perspective without even noticing? Maybe just taking in the scenery, the soul of a place I had ever been.
The question of where I was going was perhaps both more and less easily answered than what I was doing. I was going to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I came back from a place filled with devastation and hope, injustice and integrity, deeply embedded history and courageous new beginnings.
Thank you all so much for your support while constructing this home. The Shields Family has settled in and they thank you for your generosity as well. You have changed their lives.