What’s it Like on a Global Village Trip?

A group of people (a random assortment of friends, couples, singles), some who may have been on a Global Village trip before and many who have not, some who have traveled a lot, and many who have not – mostly who want to do something to provide simple decent housing for people who need it.

I always say that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know anyone who’s on the team – people who will travel halfway around the world to build a house for someone are probably pretty nice.

In Mozambique, we fly into Maputo (MPM) and spend our first night there. We have a jet-lagged team dinner at a local restaurant to get acquainted. The next morning we walk around and hit the art market before we get on a bus and drive about 3 hours north to Xai-Xai in Gaza province – a great chance to see the countryside (and spend some non-jet lagged time together). That night we have an orientation from the local Habitat staff where people can ask questions about how families are chosen, etc.

The Mozambique Habitat for Humanity program is currently focused on orphans and vulnerable children (those with a sick parent), so the houses are fully subsidized rather than requiring a mortgage. Many of the men are away working in the mines or have died – either in the mines, of illness or back in the civil war. (See Africa’s Lost Eden by National Geographic for some background on the toll of the civil war.)

Hanging outside our cabin at Honeypots

Hanging outside our cabin at Honeypots

We stay at a place called Honeypots with cabins – it’s a lot like summer camp. We had a great time there last year. We have breakfast and dinner there in a dining hall. Lunch we have on site – either the families cook or we bring a packed lunch (sandwiches, chips, apples). Bottled water is provided. Honeypots has better water pressure than my apartment and the showers are great. On the work site there’s a latrine (it’s the new one that was built for the families). If you’ve never used one before, here’s some recommended reading.

It’s difficult to describe the difference the new house makes for the families – they are no longer exposed to the elements, they can lock their door, mosquito nets mean less chance of malaria. I’d say “transformational” – the same word people usually use to describe their experience on a trip.

What I love about this program in particular is how coordinated it is with the local communities and other services – everyone is working together to ensure the kids are in school, the mothers are in treatment, the malaria nets are being used, and that the families most in need are being served. That means that the local Habitat team is out walking the local communities, soliciting lists of families from local communities and asking for input. And then there’s a whole team back in the office organizing the logistics for each house (and building is proceeding whether there’s a Global Village team in country or not). The logistics team is ensuring that each house has the materials delivered as they are needed, in the right amounts, working with the local masons and their crews.  Everything we need is there when we arrive, and we pick up as we go to re-use every bit of wire, wood, etc.

On the worksite, there are professional masons – you don’t have to have construction experience or special skills – everyone is welcome. We mix cement, carry water and cement blocks, lay blocks, push wheelbarrows full of sand, shovel, lift buckets of cement, play with the kids and spend time with the families.

 blowing bubbles with the kids

Stef blowing bubbles with the kids

And in 5 days there’s a finished house with a roof and a floor and everything! We finish with a dedication ceremony that makes it officially belong to the family.

If you have questions about whether it’s for you, please let me know. I’d love to talk to you.

Back to Mozambique (Again)

I am heading back to Mozambique again this year with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for families affected by HIV and AIDS through their Orphans and Vulnerable Children program.

The trip is scheduled for September 28 – October 6, 2013. I’ll be co-leading with Kristin Carlton – our fourth trip together. This will be Kristin’s first time leading, though her 2nd time in Mozambique and her 4th time in Africa.  It’s my 2nd time leading, and my 3rd trip to Mozambique. (Fair warning – this gets addictive.)

Kristin showing off her skills

Kristin showing off her skills

If you’re interested in joining the team, please let us know. I can be reached at lisaking@gmail.com and am happy to answer any questions. You can also contact Kristin at kristinlcarlton@gmail.com.

If you’d like to donate to our efforts, you can do that at Habitat’s secure donation site: http://share.habitat.org/u8v9njrp. A new house costs $3000. (Because these houses are for children, it’s different from most Habitat programs in that they don’t have a mortgage. The program offers fully subsidized homes.) The houses also come with a latrine and mosquito nets. (You can see the latrine in the background behind Kristin.)

Dedication Ceremony

Every dedication ceremony is special and bittersweet. It’s wonderful to see the families in their new houses, but it also means our time with them (and each other) is drawing to a close.  Once again, I promised to return (more details on that later). The dedications in Xai-Xai are lovely as everyone who helped build the house and people from the town surround the house and with their hands on the house, impart their prayers and wishes for the house and the occupants.

Dedication Ceremony

Dedication Ceremony

I know that my teammates and I all hope that the house provides a safe and happy home for our families.

New and Old

Sometimes it’s difficult to convey the difference in the housing. Here’s the old house that Felixmina and Alvaro use to have with their new house in the background. The logs on the roof of the old house were placed to try and stop the rain from coming in. In the new house, Felixmina and Alvaro will be safe and dry.

Old and new

Old and new

Almost a House

When we start, it’s always difficult to believe that 5 days later there will be a house. Here our Felixmina and Alvaro are celebrating the roof about to go on and that they will soon have a new house.

Felixmina and Alvaro celebrating their almost complete house

Felixmina and Alvaro

Suddenly, a Team

Our Team

Our Team

Suddenly, 14 people who just arrived and met 2 families and the local Habitat team and the professional builders are all a team. It’s my favorite part of these trips. (You can tell it’s early because everyone is so clean.)

45 Days and Counting!

The funds are raised (Thank you so much to all my donors. Every dollar means so much to the families we are building with.) The ticket is purchased. The travel doctor has been visited (happily only for anti-malarials and no shots this year). Visa application is at the embassy.

It’s all down to waiting and the details now.

I am so excited to be taking 14 wonderful people to Mozambique, including 2 former Randstad talent, 3 former teammates from my India build, a couple of Habitat veterans and some new folks on their first Global Village trip. I can’t wait to meet everyone in Maputo.