For two weeks this past March, I took a hiatus from life as an emerging tech commercial real estate advisor at T3 and traveled half way around the world to the Islands of Fiji. During those two weeks, my time was not spent tanning on the illustrious beaches or swimming in the glassy blue ocean, but volunteering for the Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program. It was an indescribable experience, one I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning about another culture and immersing oneself in a foreign community to consider.
The Habitat group consisted of 13 people. We traveled to a local village about an hour drive from the city of Suva. The build was for a family that had previously been living with relatives and other friends. Our mission was to re-build the husband’s childhood house.
The house had been vacant for 10 years and was badly damaged with rotten wood and dilapidated aluminum siding. As you can see from the pictures, a lot of work needed to be done.
The team worked from 8am to 4pm for about 9 days. The family’s dream was becoming a reality. With the help of other volunteers from the local village, we were able to redo all the flooring, insulate the roof, re-do all of the windows (including the installation of glass slates), build a front porch, re-do all damaged siding and install a counter and sink in the newly built kitchen. We even mixed concrete to pour footings for an outdoor wash area. There was only one power saw on the job site, so 90% of all the work was done with a hammer and a hand saw. When the concrete was mixed for the footings, we used a shovel and wheel barrow. One thing was very clear….even in Fiji – space matters!
The trip was not only about giving a family a home, it was about being introduced to a culture and a community I never would have had exposure to otherwise. As our world becomes smaller and interdependent I think it is important to understand other cultures. The Fijian’s lifestyle is fixated on family, community, acceptance and generosity. I am truly grateful to have met the people of the village, as well as, the other local Fijians – I will never forget this experience.
To learn more about the Habitat for Humanity Global Village Program visit the website at http://www.habitat.org/gv/
Please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.