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Habitat was the best part

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Building a home in Gdansk, Poland.

So what was the best part? I’m coming off a vacation and that is the big question from everyone, when I get back to work. I did a two week Habitat build in Gdansk, Poland plus traveled about for three weeks, so it’s a valid question but so hard to answer.

I saw some wondrous things as I traveled about, art and architecture, symphonies and street musicians, castles and rivers. Met and talked to many different people from foreign lands and cultures, but also people from my own country who were traveling about.

How do you pick a best part from all of that? I can, and yet it’s not one I can give easily. Unless you do it, people can’t really wrap around the idea that the best part of a vacation was working really hard for two weeks, on a building that you aren’t going to live in, or getting paid to work on. The pictures don’t really help, because they just show people all sweaty, dirty and working hard.

How can that be the best part? Perhaps it’s my fault for not having the skill or the words to say how you can work with and become very good friends with people you have not met before and will in all probability never see again.

How do I say how I feel after two weeks, tired in body and mind and it’s all washed away by a hug and thank you from a woman who is going to live where I’ve been working?

How can I tell how much more I appreciate the things I have, after seeing what other people don’t have, how much richer my life is, because of that appreciation?

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Andy (first from the left) with friends in Poland.

So I tell them that the Habitat build was the best part and if they press me on it, I tell them to do themselves a big favor and try it themselves if they really want to know.

Just try it once; you get back so much more than you give, no matter how hard you work.

Maybe that’s it, you give and that old axiom about better to give than receive is true. But you do receive, and so much more, so that can’t be it. It all just makes my pretty little head hurt.

Just take my word for it, the Habitat build was the best part.

Andy Nelsen (from Troy, NY) participated in the Global Village trip to Gdansk in the summer of 2005.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Poland.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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