KALAHEO — The people have very little, said Shirley Matsuo, who is part of the Kalaheo Missionary Church group who went to Mexico in 2016 to build houses.
“When we got there, it was hot, dry, and very windy,” Matsuo said. “And because of the catchment system the people use for water, we could only take three-minute showers. The people we built homes for were living under plastic sheets held together by sticks. They have very little, and it was a wonderful feeling to help build them a house to live in.”
Matsuo was part of a group led by Pastor Brad Booye of the Kalaheo Missionary Church who has been taking groups to Mexico to build homes for the past three years.
“The families live in cardboard houses,” Booye, who started taking house-building expeditions 15 years ago through a church in Oregon. “The houses are not big, measuring 20 feet by 15 feet when completed. During last year’s build, we could see the impact of our efforts because one of the houses took care of 14 people, including a handicapped daughter.”
Booye said the excitement demonstrated by the people receiving the houses is indescribable.
“They get so excited to see the van containing people from America coming,” Booye said. “That excitement is contagious as the builders become excited.”
Matsuo said the homes are not fancy, resembling houses from the plantation era.
“But, they’re made of cardboard,” she said. “They don’t have any water, or electricity. People have to buy water from a tanker that comes through. We also built an el banio, or bathroom, that came with the kit. It is also cardboard, but it provides some privacy and protection when people need to go to the bathroom which is basically, a hole in the ground. The house also comes with a bath house, but there is no running water — just a place where people can have some privacy when they shower. For young people, seeing how these people live makes them appreciate what they have.”
Booye is leaving with a group of 22 people in July to build more houses in Mexico.
She said they plan on visiting with the family of 14 people they built for last year. They leave on July 11 for a 10-day trip and plan to build another two homes.
”Our people get excited by seeing how their help impacts other people, and when they return, they get excited about reaching out to help their own community,” Booye said.
Bette Kobayashi is one of those people.
Kobayashi and her group of ladies who meet once a month at the Kalaheo Missionary Church, are lending a hand by hosting a craft fair highlighted by items the group has sewn, including quilts.
The craft fair will be held on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Kalaheo Missionary Church Fellowship Room, and then on May 7 from before the Sunday service, and following the Sunday service which ends after 10 a.m.
“We want everything to sell,” Kobayashi said.
Proceeds will benefit Pastor Booye’s group.
She said the weekend is perfect for shopping because it is the Mother’s Day weekend. Additional groups from the church have volunteered food for the craft fair, and the church’s Coffee Bar will also be open to serve beverages and smoothies.
Kobayashi said it has been 16 years since she retired as a teacher.
“When we reached retirement age, we were afraid we would lose contact with each other because we come from all over the island,” Kobayashi said. “We decided we would get together and learn together, sewing for people. It keeps us young.”