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The sun beat down from overhead with such intensity I was breaking out in a sweat while sitting in the shade. I didn’t mind the heat so much, I was only glad to be outside. However it did slow the speed of the progress at the construction website. It was grinding work between digging, mixing concrete, laying blocks, and bending rebar, all which I had little to no working expertise in.
I will acknowledge that construction houses was perhaps not in my own job description. As I sat there with my back against a tree I pumped a half jar of cool water over my head. A smile crossed my face, not because I felt refreshed, but because I was truly satisfied. I welcomed a gentle breeze that suddenly swept round the scene and required my own thoughts withit. My mind began to wonder. How did I arrive here?
For many years I had the dream of living abroad, learning a new language and experiencing another culture. Are not there something more alive than routine and monotony? Sometimes I would often wonder if most people were really waking in the morning inspired by the work that they were doing and how their lives were unfolding. I needed a switch. I desired to become consciously involved with something positive which could give me a sense of purpose. Does that also exist, and if so where can I subscribe? Perhaps it’s easier said than done. Yet, I finally chose and began to realize this fantasy once I traveled to Costa Rica on a whim and found myself volunteering with Habitat for Humanity International. Can one person really change the world? I wanted to find out.
Habitat only started a new International Volunteer Program (IVP) for long term volunteers and that I was the very first to go through the application. I felt this is a tremendous opportunity since the company was built and existed on the support of volunteers. Beginning I had been somewhat on edge, but in due time I found my groove within the Habitat framework. It was unbelievable – that I was actually enjoying off ice job. I participate in the development of materials like an volunteer manual, interview guides, and evaluation forms. I worked with a taskforce for the continuous advancement of the IVP program. I even handled an on site volunteer training regime in El Salvador. Yet the greatest part about my job was really getting to work alongside other volunteers, people who were there not because they had to be but have there been simply because they wanted to be.
So far as the volunteers were concerned, my role was to coordinate housing and arrival logistics, then administer orientations, and encourage them through the duration of their stay. There is this type of charisma amongst the volunteers I would simply take it a step further and plan weekend trips and after work outings. We finished up not simply altering the lives of many others, however, shifting the lifestyles of eachother.
As often as I could I’d break away from the office and accept volunteers on build trips to Habitat construction sights throughout Costa Rica. It was heart warming to see firsthand the culmination of job. Out at the sight we would work alongside the benefiting Habitat family who was consistently very receptive, helpful, and appreciative of the help. The scene was a fantastic amalgamation of civilizations, economic backgrounds, and faith. The frequent bond which tied us together wasn’t that the easy thought of creating a home. Only seeing every one working, laughing, grinning, and discussing created an atmosphere so rich with emotion that it made me reconsider the way I defined riches. The house was symbolic greater than only a place of dwelling. It represented a unity, a coming together, and an inherent comprehension of equality that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our own lives. As cliché as it might sound, it had been true. We’re not just building homes, we were building lives.
Internationally or domestically, conflict settlement or human rights, the surroundings – it’s disheartening to believe there are many methods to get involved and give back to the international community. But these issues exist not to create despair but activity. It doesn’t matter where you start to start making positive contributions just as long as you make the choice to actually start somewhere. Ultimately, this is among the toughest decisions to create. Did I eliminate poverty housing? Not really close. Can I succeed? Definitely! The calmness of my experience taught me that I cannot eliminate poverty home, that directed me into the answer I was looking for. Perhaps one person can’t change the world, however, the world can surely change for a single individual. And it has this domino effect, that if spread throughout the globe we can, collectively, achieve the unthinkable and make a world that reflects the warmth of humankind instead of its indifference.
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