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International Volunteer Program Spotlight: Sheila Maria

By Sheila Maria

Being an IVP volunteer with Habitat is work—it’s challenging; it’s satisfying; it’s fun. And if the opportunity presents itself, I will go again.

Following nearly three decades as a medical professional, I have spent the past four years exploring and expanding horizons. It has been a journey of faith, hope and joy, with amazing opportunities to learn and grow—among them, two trips abroad as an HFH international volunteer.

Working with HFH Ireland and HFH Hungary-Szarvas was amazing—both in the giving and in the receiving. To live months in a country and culture other than my own, to give the best of my heart and hands, to represent my own country in the context of faith, hope, peace and love is both privilege and blessing.

Why? While funding, organization, administration and other factors are a part of the mix, the truly life-changing donation is to spend time—an hour, a day, a weekend or longer. Contributing in this way is where volunteering comes together. A Habitat build site is a level playing field where we simply become people working together. We are there because we choose to be—laughing, learning and loving a future home into existence one day at a time and building family and community in those same shared moments. Habitat is about working together to open the doorway to dreams, and as we connect, there is that deep knowledge that regardless of culture, background, belief or circumstance, we are one family in the world.

To see the world in this way is to see the world—and myself. I am deeply grateful.

Sheila Marie was a Habitat for Humanity International Volunteer with HFH Ireland as a Construction Supervisor (August–November 2006) and HFH Hungary-Szarvas, as a Construction Liaison and Administrative Support (June–December 2007)