Pembridge Trip Recap
During the most recent trip from January 20th – 27th, the ‘Pembridge and Friends’ group constructed two sturdy, cinderblock homes that are hurricane and earthquake resistant. The home’s recipients worked right alongside them. “It was amazing to see these local small men lifting huge cinder blocks and bags of concrete up hills and down long roads, hardly breaking a sweat,” recalls Bob. “Not only that, they would never take a break even when we did.” The construction cost of a home is roughly $7,000, funded largely through donations, but it’s not completely free for the recipients. The homeowner’s must pay back $10.00 per month for 7 years.
When the rest of the group was asked why they joined Bob in Nicaragua, they all agreed it was an opportunity of a lifetime. “A humanitarian trip is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I was waiting for the right opportunity,” said Mark Leger, President of Vienneau Assurances in New Brunswick. “The chance to help and to network with colleagues from across the country provided the perfect opportunity I couldn’t pass up.” As Mark points out, the experience was not only the chance to make a substantial difference in the lives of the families; the trip offered an opportunity to bond with other insurance professionals. “I loved the thought of a group of people in our industry coming together to make a change,” recalls Rose Ann Shaw, Office Manager at Bryson Insurance in Ontario.
At the end of the day, the most rewarding aspect of the experience was seeing the result of the finished homes and the overwhelming gratitude of the recipients. Roy Cluett, President of Cluett Insurance in Nova Scotia, fondly recalls, “A little girl from one of the families stood up and thanked us for our help. She was very happy to be going into a nice, clean, dry, new house. That speech made my day knowing I was helping at least one family in need.”
Mark Leger agrees, “I’m a big believer in the ‘teach a man to fish approach’. So, I think the education component is key,” he says. “I also think it’s great that the locals participate in the building process so that they gain that experience and pride, and maybe use what they learn to improve their lives and their community.”
“Travelling with such a dynamic group of volunteers made the work not feel like work. I forged relationships with my colleagues and the participating brokers in a new way. We shared living accommodations, shared every meal together, and worked together through challenging labour, language barriers and weather conditions. There were so many laughs, stories told and created, and powerful bonds made that will never be broken.” -Bob Tisdale