Monday, February 9, 2009

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German dramatist, poet & novelist

Ms. Bibi Khantung, 45 yrs, of Morang, Nepal expressed “I am considered ‘untouchable caste’ and excluded from the community. But when the Habitat volunteers came to my house and worked for more than a week, now people in the community know me. Now I become popular in the community and they visit my house and ask me several questions about volunteers. I feel very proud the Global Village International volunteers worked so hard on my house. Also now my house is named as International House.”

Habitat for Humanity likes to say we build more than houses, “we build communities!” But really, what happens is even more than that: it’s the Habitat multiplier effect! Global Village team members contribute more than just their time; they leave behind a lasting legacy and take away more than just memories.

Bold Geniuses at Work
Teams have an important long-term impact on the home partners and also on wider community. This past fall, SOS Children’s Village, a Habitat partner NGO in Nepal, hosted a Global Village team from the Shanghai American School. After getting back to their own community, one of the student volunteers reported, “The Global Village effort showed us that we can all help in our community. We have now formed a local volunteer group among our own students and have already helped other home partners build their homes and will continue to help others. Thank you to Habitat for bringing the volunteers and showing us how to work together in our own community.”

Over the past 14 months we have reported on Global Village team’s experiences in Nepal. Based on the emails we receive from people after they return home and the number of team’s re-booking for another visit we can conclude the program is a big success. But what about the impact on the home owners once the volunteers leave? Do 5, 6 or 10 days of a volunteer team’s effort have a greater effect than just the Stone, bricks, mortar and bamboo they leave behind?

It Takes a Village
Having people from different cultural and religious backgrounds invest their time and effort in homes owners provides families with a deep sense of acceptance and a greater position in their community. Habitat for Humanity International Global Village trips to Nepal give participants a unique opportunity to become active partners with people of another culture. Team members work alongside members of the host community, raising awareness of the burden of poverty housing and building decent, affordable housing worldwide. As partners, teams members help build a true global village of love, homes, communities and hope!

Sometimes when a Global Village Team starts a project in a village, the villagers are confused. “What could just a few volunteers do in such a short time?” However after staying for a week or more the locals have a different perspective. “I planned to finish my house in two months but when the volunteers came we all worked and finished the house in one week. I realized I also saved lots of money in labor costs and now I can buy furniture and household things to make my family more comfortable,” said by 40 yrs old Ms. Gita Danuwar, Kavre.

After staying for a week or more there is a bond between volunteers and communities. Volunteers and home partners exchange their love, feelings and even gifts. The people from the whole cluster gather and give a grand farewell with lots of garlands which tied a deep relationship between them. Communities where Global Village teams have worked now eagerly await the arrival of new teams and are excited about extending the Habitat for Humanity International program in their village.

Global Village team projects have received excellent media coverage in national and local media. This publicity has brought lots of requests from other communities to build their houses with Habitat’s help, and they are also enthusiastic to work with international people. Now, the news spreading from the Habitat work sites to other areas of Nepal bringing lots of demand from the community not only to get support to build houses but also to build local schools, public libraries etc. Especially community young people have started to express their interest and commitment to work with Habitat. Presently, Habitat is working in Terai southern regions of Nepal. But with the Habitat “Multiplier Effect” in full operation, we expect to be working in the hill and mountain regions soon!


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