Guest Blog by Laura Tanner
Global Village Volunteer & Habitat staff member
The bustle of our build site is undeniable, we are working in extremely close proximity to the busy hum of daily life in our weredas or neighborhood in Addis Ababa. All week our global village team has been in what feels like constant motion alongside builders from Habitat Ethiopia, future homeowners and neighbors.
Our team has worked well together the first two days, everyone pitching in where they can, thinking through ways to make the heavy lifting safe and with a good system. As a first time participant I have greatly appreciated advice from our experienced Global Village team members - tricks for safely loading the cement carrier, how to position for sledge hammering rocks. Today our cohesiveness and step-to-it-ness were put to the test with a building triathlon of sorts: pouring foundation for the last two houses, hauling in cement blocks, and starting to lay the exterior walls.
As it was our second day pouring foundation we quickly got to work, picking up where we had left off with high energy and carrying our sleds of concrete mixed by our steadfast Habitat Ethiopia builders. Soon, the foundation was laid and ready to dry and we were ready for our next challenge.
Next up was a truck full of almost 800 cement blocks! The day before we had carried the blocks two per person and with the formidable task ahead of us we knew we had to try another way. Quickly a block brigade formed, with our Global Village team, staff from Habitat Ethiopia, homeowners and their neighbors - all together to pass an estimated four tons of blocks from the alley up to our building site. To me, this felt like the spirit of Habitat in action - moving together as one large team, block by block, with only some shared language but with a common purpose.
Finally, with cement blocks up to the site and our foundation sturdy, our last task of the day was starting to build the exterior walls from block and mortar. After all of our physical work earlier in the day, it was satisfying to see walls rising and homes starting to emerge from where there was once uneven rock.
Incremental change can be transformative with time, whether moving a truck full of cement blocks or building seven new homes for families in a bustling neighborhood. I continue to be amazed and humbled by the energy and commitment of the families and Habitat Ethiopia staff we worked alongside. I will take home with me this feeling of community and connection, meaning in the times hope is in short supply.