The Team Leader Experience
Sandy Muir, a wonderful Global Village Team Leader, shares the rewarding experience of working alongside our HomePartners. Here he tells us why he keeps returning to Global Village Builds each year…
Over 9 years ago, while early retirement was beckoning me, I discovered a friend from my church was organising a team to go on an international volunteering trip to Kenya. It was perfect timing as I finished work on the Friday and flew off to Kenya the following day. It was in rural Kenya that I learned how volunteering for Habitat for Humanity was going to play a big part in my post-retired life!
In the UK, and the western world generally, I think many of us take the basics for granted. We assume that our homes will be safe and secure, clean and hygienic, and won’t collapse during poor, even extreme, weather. In fact we would be outraged if this wasn’t the case. One of the recurring themes I have found during my Builds with Habitat for Humanity is that this is simply not true for millions of people living in poverty and this should enrage us even more.
My Time Volunteering
I remember a Malawi woman in her 70s explaining that during the rainy season each night she was faced with a choice – should she remain lying in pools of water on her dirt floor or should she try to find somewhere under her leaking roof which might keep her dry but have to remain standing up and awake. And what would have happened to her grandchildren’s school books – those precious books which will help them to learn to read, write and do their sums?
Then there was Irene in Zambia, whose family had also been badly affected by HIV/AIDS. When asked what difference a simple new home would make in her life, Irene said she just didn’t know. Not surprising as she had lived in poverty housing for all of her life. She couldn’t fully contemplate the benefits of having a sound roof, a concrete floor. A door which could be locked and windows which could open and bring light and fresh air into her home.
Serving these two families, and others, and giving them a hand-up rather than a hand-out, is a thrilling experience. It has been my privilege to take teams to work alongside HomePartners. To learn from them and realise that they are little different from us. Simply we have opportunities which are so often denied to them. Without the contribution that a safe, decent home makes, how will they be able to break the poverty cycle which traps them in so many ways?
Just as important as leaving the HomePartners with a home, our visit has told them that they are not forgotten. This has given them a message of hope and love. That message is the one I encourage all volunteers to leave as a lasting memory.
– Sandy Muir