April 1, 2023 | Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

The Birdhouse Foundation crew that worked to build a new house for these homeowners in Guatemala in January 2023. COURTESY OF ROBERT KNOTT

Kentucky friends help Birdhouse Foundation build home for family in Guatemala


My friend Greg Gee from Hopkinsville contacted me last October, to go to Guatemala and build a house. Right away I wanted to go, but it took till December to make that commitment. And with Steve Currant from Texas a team of three was formed.

On our first day we met Tulio Molina, who had a dream to build houses for the poor in his community. His dream is called the Birdhouse Foundation, and we built his 26th home.

At the worksite I was astonished by the poverty this family lived in. Their dirt-floor home was made of sticks wrapped in baling wire that held rusty pieces of tin for the walls and roof. The kitchen sink was outside, and family had access to water once a week. They had no fridge, no showers, no hot water unless heated on a wood stove, and no toiletries. The home was on a mountain, so when it rained, water ran through the house. The family had four boys and the father worked the coffee fields, earning about $7 a day.

Their new home was made of rough lumber which cost $3,500 and was funded by us and other donations. We built a 20 x 20 structure on a concrete foundation with two rooms and moved the kitchen sink to the porch, so the mother wouldn’t have to wash the clothes and dishes in the rain anymore.

The family gave us a presentation on our last day. It was a tearful and moving experience for us. Our group came to Guatemala to give this family our blessings from our work, but the overwhelming outpouring of appreciation and love, gave us even more blessings in return.

The wall painting by the family’s six-year-old son that inspired the building crew. COURTESY OF ROBERT KNOTT

People ask, why go out of America to work, when there is plenty of need here? But there are agencies in America to help the needy. In Guatemala, they don’t have any of that.

I was amazed how happy and content the family was. We in America are so caught up in all the stuff in our lives. They didn’t have many necessities, but did not blame God for their misfortune. They praised and worshiped the same God we do; we are all Children of God.

At the site I noticed a simple painting on a piece of tin, which was the family’s original kitchen wall. The son had painted a cross and Church. The moment we saw this, we knew God meant us to be there in this village. That painting from that little boy inspired us. This family had the love of Christ in their hearts and hope for the future. They told us our team from America was their hope.

And as you go about your day, when you turn that faucet on, and the water flows freely, or when you go to bed tonight, you have a warm place to lay your head. Say a prayer of thanks to God for your blessings.

We all left a little piece of our heart there in Guatemala, we didn’t just build a home, we built a relationship. We gave our time, talent, and treasure, and we used that to glorify His holy name, Jesus. For He said if you did it for the least of these, you did it for Me.

Robert Knott belongs to St. Elizabeth Parish in Curdsville.

Originally printed in the April 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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