I just finished my first global trip with Habitat for Humanity in Ethiopia. I chose to go to Ethiopia because I currently live in Kenya and while I live here I would like to travel more of East Africa. So it was a no-brainer to decide to volunteer in Ethiopia.
My team had the pleasure of being the 100th team to build in Ethiopia and the very first in Bisidimo. Bisidimo is a small village under an hour outside Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. The significance of this town is a high rate of leprosy, with families receiving stigma and living in very unhealthy conditions.
We assisted in the different phases of eight houses for the selected families in the community. The families chosen will move into improved chika houses. The improved chika house is a structured home insulated with chika (mud) with mabati (tin) roof, and finished with concrete plaster. The house is set up with a large sleeping room, living area, and a separate kitchen. Additionally, pit latrines are constructed at each housing unitMy jobs during the build included applying chika, tying posts with wire, mixing cement, moving stones and sand, and assisting in the building of the pit latrine.
The first day of our build we were enthusiastically greeted by the village with a coffee ceremony and traditional dancing. For me the slowest day, I helped with applying the chika, which essentially meant strategically throwing mud into the wooden frame of the house. Fun!
Days 2-4 I assisted with the pit latrines and framework of the houses. For framework, I used wires and tied the posts that would eventually hold the chika, very simple. The assisting of the pit latrine definitely was the tough job, but I enjoyed it. I assisted in moving stones and sand to various locations and saw the different stages of the pit latrine. It was fun to throw the large boulders into the pit to make the foundation.
Our final day we went to a new village and saw the very beginning of the chika house. Only a rope was mapping out the house and we helped in creating the holes that would hold the poles for the future foundation and framing. This was harder than it sounds. We had to dig the holes one foot across by about 2 feet down with something like a shovel but not a shovel. The ground was packed so tightly where I was digging with another volunteer it was like chipping away at cement. However, in the two hours we worked we managed to dig two perfect holes. Girl power!
After our final work task, we headed to the original build site where the community held a very moving closing ceremony for us. They presented us with traditional outfits as gifts and a farewell coffee ceremony. We said our goodbyes to the families who welcomed us, many who worked beside us all week, and before long were on our bus with our work done, but with the beginning of many more teams to follow.
The week flew by but the memories will last a lifetime. Anyone who is thinking about joining a global build just needs to do it because it is an experience that will stay with you forever!