Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ecological House in Ciudad Juarez

By Sr. Katty Huanuco, CCVI

Sr. Petra Peña, CCVI says, “Praise be the Incarnate Word!” and everyone in unison responds, “Forever, amen,” after having sung a blessing for the food they will share.  There are three workers who are helping with the construction, but their voices are so powerful that it sounds like six.  They share a table with the sisters, some time to rest, eat, and continue talking about the ‘project of the CCVI ecological house’ that they themselves didn’t even know they could build before they started.   

“I am with them all the time, to oversee each detail that our house will have; you see they have built many houses around here, but none like this one,” Sr. Petra explains to me.  I note that too; everything is different, from the strong new foundation which brings together the wisdom of the indigenous communities to the innovative ecological bathrooms. 

The construction primarily uses materials such as adobe and limestone.  In some instances, mostly to support the columns in the house, wood is used, and only if absolutely necessary then just a little bit of cement too.  This has led to great enthusiasm in the construction workers working on the house, because they say, “We are learning so much! This is like how our ancestors did it. Now we will be able to build more houses like this!”   

The layout of the house makes me re-think the spaces in my own house, because this house will have two green spaces inside it.  Yes, two gardens inside.  Isn’t that wonderful?  Where is my garden?  What place occupies the ‘garden of life’ in my ‘house?’

Passing from room to room, you can observe how the rain barrel is perfectly situated, the connections for reusing water are in the wash area of the house, and there are large windows to let in the natural sunlight without having to turn on any electricity. 

Perhaps another important detail, which definitely impresses me, are the ‘ecological bathrooms.’  They are so comfortable, so ‘normal’ and so good for the plants that it makes you rethink what else could be reused before throwing it out or wasting it. 

And so the building of the house continues, day by day, with joy and learning.  And even though the house isn’t finished yet, the Sisters are already receiving curious guests (like myself), ecologists, and professionals that want to collaborate in some way on this project.  I also had the joy of witnessing an exposition on ‘roofing proposals for the CCVI ecological house’ in one of the most important local universities in Ciudad Juarez.  There was so much enthusiasm and creativity from the university students in the School of Architecture!  Great leadership from the Professor in the area of sustainability!  Such great educational awareness around quality ecological projects and a commitment to the planet! 

It is so beautiful everything that is going on!  What a blessing this project is for us!  So many people dreaming of ways to do things better!  What an impact it will have! And as Sr. Petra says, “This Project is God’s, none of it would happen if it wasn’t His initiative and as He dreamed it.” Yes, that is what my heart was telling me too, because He has called us to be protectors of His creation. 

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