Like elves working in Santa’s workshop the skilled craftsmen of IDEA tinker away making magic happen. Truckloads of steel and wood pass by the IDEA office windows and past the entrance to the Dao Diamond hotel to a forgotten hideaway at the back of the property.
At first glance the shop area looks like it has been overrun by squatters. There are tarps and makeshift shelters surrounded by piles of wood, steel, sand and broken desks. Spirals of smoke rise from the trash burning nearby and sparks fly from metal on metal as they saw through pieces of steel. It’s hard to imagine anything of value emerging from this chaos.
Yet like the sun shining a beam through the clouds masterpieces emerge from the darkness and the true talent of our workers can no longer be ignored. Our skilled carvers take a picture of a hundred year old antique and replicate it. That in and of itself is amazing but what defies imagination is that they do it with poor quality tools or tools they’ve made do with from local materials.
Their idea of safety would make even the most lenient of OSHA inspectors cringe! Since most are deaf they don’t bother with hearing protection, there are only a few pairs of safety glasses, and long sleeved T-shirts wrapped around their heads serve as face and head gear. As if all of this weren’t enough they cut rebar, grind steel, dig holes, make hallow block all while wearing flip flops, T-shirts and shorts!
For over 25 years the IDEA shop craftsmen have taken care of the maintenance for our income generating projects such as the Dao Diamond Hotel and Garden Café. They keep all the vehicles running, take care of all the repairs at the schools and build the furniture for the schools and hotels. They also do outside construction work for people in the community making the shop another income generating source and employment for the deaf.
In August of 2012, Dennis gave birth to a dream and wrote up a proposal to the Consuelo Foundation asking for a grant to build a structure for a shop and training center. In that building we would have an area for:
- Building Construction
- Production of Furniture
- Carpentry of all kinds
- Masonry of all kinds
- Refrigeration and Appliance Repair
- Glass Etching
- Wood lathe specialist
- AND MORE
Each of these areas will double as a classroom for vocational training for our graduating deaf students.
As with any birth there are always labor pains and we have had our share on this project. The holes for the footings have to be dug through the hard limestone that this island consists of. Two jackhammers lay in pieces waiting for parts and the workers still press on using heavy metal bars and lots of back labor but that doesn’t stop their resolve. They labor continuously knowing that soon they will have a beautiful covered area to work in, room to spread out, and the ability to pass along their skills to the next generation. Well worth it!