Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Habitat Tajikistan - the final push!

I'm back from the keyboard-dead, just in time to talk about my Habitat for Humanity trip to Tajikistan!

It's the last day to donate online to my Habitat Tajikistan trip!
Well, that is, you have about 24 hours remaining to donate online. There is still a way to donate after that by check, but isn't it SO much easier to just click that link, whip out the credit/debit card, and be done with it? I have raised well over half the money, but I need to raise $739 more by tomorrow. This isn't as impossible as it may sound. A few people have expressed interest or promised to donate a small sum, so assuming they do so, I am closer than I feel right now. Still, I need a little bit more. Any amount whatsoever is appreciated, of course!

Why should you donate to this Habitat trip?

I can think of a million reasons, of course, not the least of which is what a great organization Habitat is. You can read more about that, and more about Tajikistan, here. But I also am a big believer that many small actions make one big difference.

What exactly am I going to do in Tajikistan?
A Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip is basically a group of volunteers who pay their own way to travel to a destination, usually one facing major poverty and housing needs, to work on building a house(s). Habitat has affiliates in many countries around the globe. The cost of going to Tajikistan is around $1900 + airfare. The cost includes lodging, food, and in-country transportation for the volunteer, plus materials and a donation to the local Habitat affiliate, perpetuating the work. We will be working with the Tajikistan affiliate while we are there. We will build all day, five days a week, like a full-time job.

We come prepared with sturdy shoes and clothes, hat & bandana, work gloves, and other accessories. The volunteer team often brings supplies in coordination with the local Habitat office. We mostly come ready to roll up our sleeves and work.

I have done one previous Habitat trip, in Honduras in 2008. We were able to work closely with the representatives from the local affiliate, a local mason who supervised the site construction, and the family who will own the home. Part of Habitat's requirements are that the homeowners put in "sweat equity" so the team of a half dozen to a dozen volunteers works alongside the family to build. Sometimes a volunteer team comes in at the beginning to lay the foundation; sometimes they arrive in the middle and lay lots of bricks; sometimes they raise the roof or finish the job. By showing up to build for a week or two or three, we can greatly speed up the work, helping the mason and local affiliates to move on to the next house, and so on and on.

What I learned working with Habitat in Honduras
  • Construction is hard work. (duh!) And not just because I have spent the majority of the last three years+ sitting at a computer, for law school and for writing & freelancing. Luckily I am also training for a 25K run right now, so I hope to be in shape enough to be able to work hard. Hydrating is important, of course! So is persistence.
  • Building a house is important, but so is building a home. I think Habitat works so well as an organization because it is a melding of the totally physical labor/materials and the totally emotional spirit of family that will live in the home. Habitat also welcomes people of any faith -- or of no faith (that's me!) -- who believe that everyone deserves a decent place to live. Many, many factors have contributed to difficult situations in many places in the world, from civil wars and corrupt leaders to reconfiguring of national boundaries and natural disasters. By putting my time and money toward this cause, I do a small thing, but many small things together equal big results.
  • The learning! The growth! Everyone who has traveled or worked on a big project knows that there is intangible satisfaction and deep personal education that comes along with those things, and it's hard to describe precisely what happens in these situations. For example, in Honduras I got to use my fairly rusty Spanish every day and really brush up on it, but I learned more about communicating by working with the amazing "Maestro," our local mason, and my amazing fellow volunteers, who were all so much better than me at both construction and communication. They had also overcome some really profound struggles in their lives, and they were out there helping others, and it was really inspiring.
Feel free to ask me if you have any questions whatsoever about Habitat, the fundraising, Tajikistan, my trip, or anything else. I highly recommend that you, too, consider volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, whether in your local community or on a Global Village build. And I will be incredibly grateful for your support for my journey in whatever form it takes. How well I know that not all support is financial; the contributions just pave the way for so much more.

No comments: