Mission report by Barbara Thomas:
Habitat PortugalThank you for your prayers during my team’s recent Habitat for Humanity mission to Braga, Portugal. In early April, our group of 14 gathered in Braga from eight states, Washignton (DC), and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were one of the teams renovating the ancestral home of Maria Augusta and her mother Carolina. Maria Augusta cares for her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s while working family land, selling organic produce to local shops and restaurants.

The team met in Porto and we were transferred by van to our lodgings in Braga. Work started early on Monday morning, with a short ride to Palme, a nearby village where Maria Augusta and Carolina lived.

The condition of the house was very poor . . . you and I would say unlivable. Our tasks for the week included building the ceiling supports in preparation for pouring concrete; tying rebar; mixing concrete to form a ramp to the front door for Carolina; preparing and pouring a concrete propane tank pad; and sifting endless sand which would be used to make concrete for the interior walls.

Dinner each night was in a different restaurant in town, while lunches were in the village restaurant, or picnicking in the park. The final day we shared a barbeque from a very unique wheelbarrow/rebar grill on site – along with tasty local treats made by our host and Maria Augusta’s wonderful breads and cakes.

MariaWe will share fond memories of our time in Braga and are thankful to have been able to meet and work with Maria Augusta. My fondest memories will be of her smile, her generosity and her very kind words at the end of our week, spoken in Portuguese and translated here:

You are all very nice and I am very grateful for all you have done for me; not only you, but also all the others that came here will stay in my heart… I would like one day to also have the opportunity to help other people who have the same difficulties as me, because I know how hard it is not to have living conditions, it affects us severely, not only psychologically, but also our morale… To all of you thank you very, very much. You will stay here in my heart forever. Whenever you come to Portugal, I would thank you if you visit my home, which is also your home. You are now part of my family. Thank you.