Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Habitat For Humanity

(PICTURE: Letter of thanks from habitat.)

Habitat For Humanity's motto is, "A world where everyone has a decent place to live." Thanks to the 70+ donors who sent me money, one family will soon have a better place to live in Vietnam.

I say "soon" because the money that everyone donated did not build the house that this and upcoming blogs will be about. The money we collected will go to build a new house for a family in a few months. Habitat will be sending me updates about the family who will benefit from our donation. As Habitat keeps me posted, I'll update the blog.

As much as I would have loved to build the house that our money will go to, the timing just won't work out since I'll be in Japan. Frankly though, it's a good thing that I don't build the house since habitat will be hiring contractors who I'm sure will do a better job than I ever could. Oh, one other cool thing about the house that will be built with our money: I'm 90% sure it will have a sign on it that says something like, "Donated by Benjamin August and Friends." Next time you're in Vietnam you can go and see the house that we helped to build!

I must admit, besides being told how much money was needed for a house, I was kind of naive about the whole Habitat process. This past week opened my eyes to how it all works as much as it did about home building. The group I joined was led by Thomas and Elizabeth, a very nice married couple who have done many builds before. As the team leaders, Thomas and Elizabeth had been in contact with all the people on the trip for quite some time. I felt a little bad jumping on their team build but they were more than accommodating. The rest of the team were individuals from around the world who, besides a pair or two, didn't know each other until the day they met up at their hotel. The group was filled with smart, friendly and dynamic people from various backgrounds and countries. Granted I was only with the group for four days, but I was extremely impressed by everyone. I guess that is what you should expect from people who are willing to use their vacation time and hard earned money to build someone else a house for two weeks.
(PICTURE: Team Elizabeth and Thomas. Habitat gave us these hats on the first day...I think I was one of two people to actually where it during the build.)

On the first day of the build, the group was divided into two teams in order to build two different houses. The group I was with built a one story house for a family consisting of a grandmother, her son, and his two children. Apparently the man's wife had left him and he was raising the children by himself. The family was living in a straw/thatch house right next to where we were building them their new house brick house. After seeing the neighbors house which was made of metal sheets, I made a comment that it was like the story of the three little pigs: there was the straw house, the metal house and soon to be a house made of concrete and bricks...

(PICTURE: The family's thatch house on the left. The foundation for their new house is on the right.)