Posted March 9, 2020

Batey Cuchilla is about a mile off the main road, near Bateys 8 and 9. For many years, it was only accessible by a long dirt road between two sugar cane fields. Recently, the dirt road was replaced with a paved blacktop. Cuchilla is one of the smaller bateys—and one of the most poor—served by The Least of These Ministries, with just over 30 families in our food distribution, representing about 300 people.

Like many bateys, Cuchilla is led by a group of residents who help to keep order and advocate for the community. One of these leaders is Mella, with whom our ministry has worked for several years. Mella, 38, is married to Santiago, who is 40. They have four children: Oscar, 17; Neroidy, 14; Ramón, 10; and Adrian, 7. Oscar has a physical disability that renders him unable to walk. He crawls on his hands and knees to get to most places, although he does use a wheelchair to get around sometimes.

Last year, Mella asked Ricardo, our local Manager, if our ministry could help to repair her house. Much of the wood at the base of the walls had decayed. Many of the metal roof panels had separated from the structure, leaving them little protection from heavy rainfall. And the entire structure was leaning to one side, as seen in the photo below.

After several conversations with Ricardo, we decided to rebuild Mella’s house with the help of a mission team. Longtime supporters and frequent team participants Ron & Jenny Lytle brought a small team from Morgantown, West Virginia just after Christmas. Local residents tore down the existing structure, and a local carpenter set the main structural posts in place before the team arrived. The team, working with local helpers, assembled the wood walls, cut out the windows, built and installed the doors, and poured a new concrete floor. The carpenter installed the new metal roof with the help of another batey resident.

The house was mostly completed after three days of work! The windows were installed later by local workers. Mella and her family are now comfortably settled into their new space. Mella says she is thankful to God for the blessing of their new home, and is also thankful to everyone who had a part in providing the materials and building the house.