So finally headed home after being away for nearly 3 weeks. I found myself living in the moment versus taking the pics I wanted to take or updating the blog I’d started. Just a quick note of gratitude to all the friends and family that contributed to this trip – I can’t wait to share with you how your contributions were put to use. To all my friends who have supported me through either financial means or prayer and well wishes, thank you!
We are bombarded by negative news daily. We see stories about a neighbor suing a neighbor, one religious group persecuting another and we see too much evidence that people follow the Wallstreet movie motto of “Greed is Good”. But here is the good news – this doesn’t have to be the case. On this Habitat Global Village build I saw:
- Neighbor helping neighbor. At each of our home sites – 16 in all – the home owners worked alongside us, but their neighbors also showed up, often after working a full day in their farm fields.
- Our group was welcomed by the Village head Buddhist Monk who also blessed us, the homesites and the home owners. Just 3 years ago, this Monk discouraged the villagers from working with Habitat because the Monks believed the teams were there to proselytize or try to convert them to Christianity. However, after hearing from home owners who worked with Habitat, he saw that even though Habitat was formed on Christian concepts, we were not there to convert them or witness to them – except through our actions. Only some of the team members, such as myself, are Christians – but values such as compassion, caring and willingness to help others in need, are not unique to Christianity. I saw a respect between the various religions and even those who are agnostic.
- As for greed – not much of this seen in Dambulla. What we DID see was a village come together to help one of their own. There was a woman who had some disabilities that kept her from consistent employment and therefore, hard for her to qualify for a micro loan for her house. The villagers stepped up and guaranteed her loan saying THEY would all pay if she could not.
In a part of the country with so little, where most people make their living off the land, these people do not sit around and wait for hand-outs, simply a hand up. I met Harshi De Silva, the niece of one of the home owners with whom we were working. I had walked over to our “rest area” on the site to grab a drink of water. She was excited to meet me and really wanted me to sit and ask her questions – it was so she could practice her English. I met her 4 year old son as well as he was just coming home from school. Sri Lanka has an extremely high literacy rate. Harshi had received a micro loan last year and worked with Habitat to build her home. After our closing ceremony, she grabbed my hand and pleaded with me to come see the house she helped build. So, off we went down the street. The house, that she shares with her 4 year old son, is only about 10 feet by 12 feet, but to her it is a safe dry place for them to live. A place safe from the rain and snakes. A place where her son can get a good night’s sleep so that he is ready for school each day. Harshi is excited to be email pals so she can continue to practice her written English – who knows, maybe I can learn more Sinhalese!
If you need a lift personally, spiritually or emotionally, just go on a Global Village build! On these builds you will see humanity come together as one. You will see amazing people, like my teammates, who do so much with their own families, raising children, working at their jobs, sacrifice their time and money to help another across the world. You’ll see cultures come together, learn from one another, laugh – and yes cry a little too – as we realize we all have struggles. You’ll also find that your “struggles” become a lot smaller when you see what others are going through.
I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to participate in these builds. I have an employer that encourages philanthropic endeavors, clients who understand why I am out of the office for weeks at a time, and friends who support me on trips like these through donations, prayers and words of encouragement. Thank you to all who have been a part of this!