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Visit a little piece of Nicaragua - Maria's Home

When a mission team from Schweitzer United Methodist Church visited Nicaragua, members were shocked by the living conditions endured by many families in this poor country. They also found out the fine job that Rainbow Network is doing in building new houses and communities for many Nicaraguans. In discussing ways to garner support for the Rainbow Network housing project, a house constructionsuggestion was made to construct a replica of the shacks in which many Nicaraguans live. It was felt that this would be much more effective in raising the awareness of the community about the plight of this Central American country and/or raising funds for new houses.

With urging of Schweitzer minister Bob Casady, who was a member of that mission team, a group of dedicated church members began the job of replicating a Nicaraguan shack on the grounds of the church at 3700 East Sunshine using the same materials used by the natives: tree poles, old metal sheeting, old timbers, and plastic sheeting.

Maria and daughterTo put a face on the project the builders kept before them the image of Maria Espionozo a mother of three children who will be moving into a new Rainbow Network house in the near future. Maria worked alongside the mission team workers in helping construct the new houses -- with solid walls, a concrete floor and solid roof. The structure soon became known as "Maria's home".

Efforts were made to make the structure as close to what the team saw in Nicaragua as possible while making it sturdy enough to withstand the liability requirements of American society. It has the dirt floor which is dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet season; the only two seasons they have. An attempt was made to show how Maria's homecramped conditions are with some members of large families required to sleep in shifts because of crowded space. Hammocks for children often swing over the beds of their parents. There is no electricity, no running water. The roof often leaks and there is no way to keep out predators.

Maria's house is now finished an open to the public around the clock. It is being used for a Raise the Roof campaign at Schweitzer in which 10 percent of funds raised for repairs at the church will be tithed to building projects through Rainbow Network. It will be used this summer in Vacation Inside Maria's homeBible School to show Springfield children the conditions in which many Nicaraguan children must live. It is hoped that others in the community will drop by the Sunshine Street entrance to the church and find out more about the needs of Nicaragua as typified by Maria's house.

Any individual or group interested in provide better housing for those in Nicaragua should make contact with Rainbow Network at .

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