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Published: October 7th 2015
Our two days of building were productive and rewarding. Not only did we make measureable progress on the exterior and interior walls of the home, we made connections with our partner families and their neighbors. We worked alongside each other, rested together and enjoyed the joy that children bring to our world.
The first part of our day today was spent in small groups talking with families already living in their Habitat homes. In groups of 3 or 4, along with an interpreter, we met with caregivers and some of their children to talk about how their lives were before and after moving into their Habitat homes. Improvements in the physical shelter of our orphan families, positively impacted many other areas of their lives. Besides the obvious of having a safe, dry home to live in, significant changes were noted in their health, educational opportunities, status within the community and food security.
• · Less prevalence of Malaria
• · Less intestinal disease
• · Less pest borne illnesses
• · A warmer, drier place to live
• · Access to clean water and sanitation
• · Having a dry home,
allowed children to keep their school notebooks, increasing the likelihood of school attendance.
• · Having a dry home allowed children to have a set of clean clothing to wear to school
• · A notable change in dignity is observed in Habitat home recipients.
• · Stigmatized orphan families, rise in community status by virtue of having stable, safe living spaces.
• · Dry shelter benefits many nearby families.
• · Using less money and time to upkeep their shelter, families can reallocate scarce resources to food.
The family our group spoke with consisted of Mom/Caregiver (homemaker), Dad (bicycle taxi driver), 2 teenage nephews (orphans), and four other young children, two of whom were severely handicapped (One paralyzed from Malaria as an infant and the other with advanced hydrocephalus). It was good to see the positive impact a Habitat home had on their lives.
The remainder of our day was spent in a village celebration dedicating the homes we worked on. We were joined by our partner families, village leaders and neighbors. Blessings, words of gratitude, song, and dance were shared by all. This was
followed by a locally prepared feast shared with our partner families. It was an emotional conclusion to a heart tugging week.
Throughout this trip, as Habitat Ambassadors, we were treated with respect and reverence which felt disproportionate to what little we had done. I am humbled by the dignity, grace and spirit of community I witnessed in these African villages. As an American used to a very high standard of living, I take for granted many basic necessities. I pray this experience will continue to influence how I live my life and offer service to others.
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