News: Building a dream house
Story by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Close up pictures render a version of what you might think is a new tiki bar here at Guantanamo Naval Station or a new playground for the kids, but it’s a mini version of the house Army Sgt. Johnny Sabino, from the 613th Military Police Company, promised to buy his mother one day.
What started out as a beverage carton slowly became a dream house. Troopers around the block came to watch Sabino gluing sticks together while he formed the dog house, swing set and other intricate parts of the model house. They doubted him at first but by the time he was finished he made believers out of everyone around him.
“My neighbor was like, 'yeah right,' when I told her I was gonna make a house,” said Sabino, “then she got more interested as I went on.”
Sabino and his brother have always wanted to buy a house for their mom, but shortly after Sabino’s arrival to GTMO his brother passed away from cancer, and he flew home for emergency leave. He returned to build a mini-version of the dream house they promised they’d buy his mother together one day.
“My mom’s been a little bit down lately, and I want to send this to her for Mother’s day,” said Sabino.
The house is complete with a Puerto Rican flag on top. It took him two weeks to make it. He used shish kabob sticks, called pinchos sticks in Puerto Rico, and cut up construction paper for the green grass. He spent an hour walking cable beach picking up sea glass to use for the walkways. He purchased wood chips for the foundation of the house and fashioned the porch, walkways and roof edges with bamboo he got from the tiki bar. The swings and other parts of the house are made from tongue depressors.
“I spent time asking for four or five people in the Joint Medical Group every day until I had about 20 to put towards building the house,” said Sabino.
He had to be creative to finish his project. He used fingernail files for the window, tape for the window panes and put it all together with wood glue purchased from the NEX.
“I had to eat four ice creams to do this window,” said Sabino. He used 550 cord to make the hose on the side of the house, black spray paint for the roof and regular dirt from outside for the front yard.
He spent time making it on his days off in the afternoon when he got home.
“A lot of people say they’ve wasted their time here, and I tell them to be creative and do something with their life,” said Sabino. “That’s what I do when I’m bored. I’m not a gym freak, and I don’t like playing video games. So what do I have left? You have to be creative. The more I keep my mind busy the faster time goes by. I’ve always said to make the best out of what you’ve got.”
At home he started making a boat from wood but never finished.
“Here at GTMO I’ve finally had time to finish something,” said Sabino smiling proudly as he held the house up for a picture to send his mom.