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Reviving a community


Fadiyeh al Maradat helps build.



Fadiyeh al Maradat with family and neighbors.



Fadiyeh’s family twist wires to build roof supports.

Fadiyeh was born in the village of Ghor al Safi 68 years ago. Like all the villagers, her family lived in a goat-hair tent. They were tomato farmers and made yogurt from sheep’s milk and baked bread on an open fire. Fadiyeh cherishes the memory of sharing these things with her neighbors and extended family.

During the 1980s, the villagers moved out of tents and into cement block houses. With modernization and the move to houses, there were some good improvements: dedicated spaces for livestock separate from people; increased privacy; running water and electricity. Raising the walls of houses, however, also raised barriers to genuine community, for which adjustments were not made. The intimacy and sharing that were once a natural part of the open lifestyle of tent life decreased.

At about four feet, eight inches tall, Fadiyeh is a remarkable presence. Wearing a black work dress and head scarf, she watched eagerly as the build crew of local builders and volunteers from HFH Metro Denver constructed a column, walls, windows, doors and a roof to form her home. She welcomed the volunteers warmly and greeted everyone with a smile, wishing them strength. The build was a fast-paced and lively event.

The family was inspired by the build. They feel that they have gained both a new home and a revived spirit of cooperation. Fadiyeh and her neighbor, Bostaneh, said they want to cooperate more with their community to ensure everyone’s well-being. HFHJ sees opportunities such as volunteer builds as valuable parts of the community building process. House building projects can give communities a needed opportunity to work together constructively and cooperatively.