Volunteers set the first window.
Photo by Kim MacDonald








Diary of House 949: Day One
By Leigh Powell

International volunteers poured out of their hotels along the Durban beachfront and loaded onto waiting buses. A short drive across town delivered them to the build site, where 100 foundations lay ready for the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2002.

Excited volunteers ate breakfast together and were greeted by Harry Goodall, vice president of Habitat’s Africa/Middle East area. Then Millard Fuller, Habitat’s founder and president, led the morning devotions. “Let us love one another,” Millard charged the volunteers. “Let us get to know the homeowners and love them and let them love us.”

With that, the volunteers set off in high spirits to find their house assignments for the first day of building. I was assigned to House 949 and walked down the hill toward the house as the sun rose over Durban.

House 949 sits back from the road on the left. I strolled over and met David, the house leader, and the other crew members assigned to assist Richard Zondi build his new home.

Mark, Anna and I began laying blocks on the long wall. Joanne and Birgit jumped in on the opposite wall. Ashley and Clive joined Dudzilie Theresa in bringing fresh “mud” (mortar) from the “mud pit” to our walls while Richard’s brother-in-law, Maviti, started setting the windows.

Everyone had a job, and I think we were all surprised when lunch came so quickly. We grabbed our brown-bag lunches off the lunch delivery truck, ate and went right back into the building. The afternoon was a rigorous one of block lifting, block laying and mortar mixing. But it was also an afternoon of jokes and conversation, as we all stopped being strangers from around the globe and started being a team, started being friends.

We finished late, but we met our goals for Day One. We worked until after dark laying the last row of bricks at the top of the house, tidying up our masonry work and preparing the site for Day Two.

Tired and already a little sore, we slowly climbed the hill toward the dinner tents, checking out the other crews’ progress, congratulating ourselves on a good day’s work and wishing each other a good night’s sleep before returning to work the next day.

—Leigh Powell is an HFHI writer and editor on special assignment for the JCWP


 




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