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Let Us Build Together

Page 2

Tricia Natoli

Every year since 1984 former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn have donated a week of their time, and their building skills, to HfH.  Each year, alternating in the USA and overseas, they have led a major building event that attracts thousands of volunteers. The next year they were going to be in the Phillipines, we wanted to go, we booked our places.

The theme for the Build in Tagalog was "Magbayanihan Tayo”, Let us build together, the largest and most complicated Carter Work Project ever. We were sent to Maragondon in Cavite province, just outside Manila. The owners of several local hotels provided accommodation, breakfast, and evening meal. Mid-day meals were brought to the site and catered in a couple of enormous army tents. Amongst 3,900 volunteers from 32 countries, we felt part of a truly international endeavour. Unlike other teams who came from the same country, area or church congregation, our team was made up of “orphans”. Two Americans, two Australians, two from Nepal (one a Jesuit priest) and an Indian diplomat all worked alongside the homeowners.

When we mentioned our lack of building skills, the team leader said that if, as mothers, we had played with Lego and iced a cake, then we knew how to build the house. This turned out to be right. Houses were built of concrete blocks with glass louvered windows. A kitchen sink and a small separate toilet, with a tap nearby to provide water for flushing and washing, were the luxury finishes. Roofs were corrugated iron and not insulated; all very basic. With a floor area of 30 square meters the houses were hardly the size of an Australian garage, but would be the first real home for many.   

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