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Confessions of a Team Leader


Poverty. We all know it exists but are we really aware of the poverty in our everyday lives? This question is becoming a cliché, in my opinion. We can study, we can discuss, we can sit in meetings but when we stand up and do something that is when changes start happening. Suddenly, the cliché has a meaning,  if that´s even possible.

I talk from the perspective of a person living in Europe. Living out of the poverty’s vicious circle but living consciously. I am aware of my possibilities and opportunities and I am aware of who I am so the best I can do is go out there and share what I can. In my case it´s not money or wealth. I go out there for the sake of sharing: experience, work, skills, joy, laughter, compassion, and more!

I have been working at Habitat’s area office in Bratislava, Slovakia, for almost four years. As a part of the Habitat family, we are encouraged to get involved in many different ways. Following examples of my colleagues, I decided to take on Global Village team leader training. It was fun and not very demanding, probably because I was ready for it. I wanted to meet a beneficiary family and help them. Give a helping hand and see how their life improves. Be a part of it!

I decided to lead my first Global Village team to Armenia in October 2011. The preparations started several months in advance. I was all new to it and my great thanks go to all Habitat coordinators that helped me on the way. For me it was most important to stay flexible! It helped. I loved to be contacted by people all around the world interested in joining the team.

Of course, not all wannabe team members made it through - their decision, I would say yes to everybody. But at the end, the team formed, every one of them is now stuck in my heart forever. The sharing concept I mentioned worked perfectly with this team. For a week we built with a family whose language we did not speak - unimportant fact because we learned to speak a common language very fast. Smiles, eye contact, gestures, embraces. The human language!

Then I led my second team to Mozambique a year later in October 2012.  A different continent and different experience but the same mission. You know what? They also speak human in Africa. I called it the “Joy Build” and I was so happy that not only its name but also the spirit was full of joy. Again, I was very lucky to get the greatest team members you can imagine, and we all worked hard for 5 days together with the family and local helpers. Friday´s dedication had a complete house to be admired, the dancing and singing celebrated everybody´s involvement. In moments like that uncertainty disappears and you KNOW why you are here. Sharing!

When I think of both families now, far away from them and after some time, I don´t feel lost. I still feel connected. I know in what house they live, I know the view from their windows and I know - I hope, I pray, I wish - their lives are much, much better now they have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. We created positive bonding, stronger than any material. This kind of bonding is one of the greatest rewards you can ever get. Honor it!

I think that first time team leader experience is a challenge because it is unknown. By overcoming it you add another meaning to your life. And be wary, it is very probable you will not be able to stop! I am already thinking of leading the next trip. To where - I am waiting for my heart to scream where. I keep thinking of Kyrgyzstan.  And don´t forget, “Aspire to inspire before you expire!”