How do we give back? How do we show gratitude for the wondrous life we live in Canada, a country brimming with opportunity and abundance? We are all struck by this desire, at some point, and it tends to be inspired by others. I found out last year my good friend, Kathie Wolcott, who has participated in nine global builds for Habitat for Humanity – in exotic locales like Brazil, Jordan, Mongolia – would be leading a team travelling to the Philippines this February. “I guess it’s time for me to get on board,” I told her, and shortly after I signed up my daughter Randy joined the team too, saying she’s been wanting to work with Habitat as well.
“I chose Habitat,” Kathie explains, “because I’ve heard horror stories about organizations who were not established. I had my daughter, who was only 18, with me on my first build and wanted that security.”
Habitat’s goal is to eliminate poverty housing, one house at a time. I’ve done some work with them here in London and I’m impressed with how the family members, who will be living in the home, work alongside the volunteers. The Habitat model is as follows: “Habitat assists low-income families to build their home by providing volunteer labour, donated materials and no-profit, no-interest mortgages tailored to their income level. As mortgages are repaid the funds are used to build more houses.”
The project we will be working on for two weeks is in the community of Bistekville 1, Quezon City. (If interested, go to You Tube, UWGB Habitat for Humanity Global Village Trip Philippines to watch a group of college students working on Bistekville IV. Link – http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd7CkrogcfA) Members of this community have schools, jobs, running water, and access to goods and services, but what they don’t have is a decent place to live. Their homes are constructed haphazardly, using available materials, like corrugated steel, cardboard and tarps and would not protect them in a typhoon, a constant threat.
A few years ago, Randy spent a month travelling in the Philippines, so she will also be my tour guide. “I arrived in Manila during the 2010 presidential election,” she says, “and the main street was completely empty, yet heavily guarded. To prevent riots there was an alcohol ban for two weeks, not only for citizens, but travellers as well. Needless to say, you could feel tension everywhere.”
And I expect both of us will feel tension everywhere – in every muscle on our bodies! – after two weeks of building, so we are lucky to be taking an extra week on the island of Palawan.
Says entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” I look forward to discovering what this build builds in me.
“I have always gained more than I have ever given on a build,” Kathie says. “There was the man who taught me to build a house and I taught him how to take a piece of pizza out of a box. There was the woman to whom we gave a $1 bottle of cologne and a small cake for her 34th birthday. In her whole life, she’d never received either a gift or a cake on her birthday.”