Leigh Powell, a writer and editor for Habitat for Humanity International, scrapes paint from the windows of house #949 as the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2002 winds down.
Photo by George Hipple

Diary of House 949: Day Four
By Leigh Powell

It wasn’t as chilly this morning as it has been, or maybe I’m getting used to the idea that it’s actually winter here, and it’s going to be a little cool before the sun comes up. I know it’s silly, but I never really thought about there being a winter in Africa.

Today we did mostly inside work. We put the second coat of paint on all the windowpanes and doors, and then we continued putting up the ceiling and walls. Anne told me a couple of days ago that she and her husband had been on a lot of Habitat builds, but last year’s JCWP in South Korea was the first and only time she had done construction (she’d always helped with the food services on builds previously). Today, though, you wouldn’t have known she hadn’t always done construction—she jumped right in on the installation of “RhinoBoard” for the walls, just like a pro!

One of the most exciting things today was when President Carter stopped by our house. He’s been hard at work on his own house all week, but this morning he came by and asked if he could help us install our front porch awning. I was busy in the back scraping extra paint from the glass on the windows, so I didn’t even know he was there till Joanne stuck her head into the bedroom and exclaimed, “Jimmy Carter is building our front porch!” I think Howard, Mark and David helped him with it, but I’m not sure; exciting as it is to see President Carter, I think most people agree that it’s more important to keep working and get things finished than it is to gawk during the build.

Later in the morning several house teams got to pose for a picture with President and Mrs. Carter and Millard and Linda Fuller. President Carter’s grandson Jason delivered a message in Zulu to the crowd (I wonder what he said; I’ll have to ask Theresa tomorrow) and received rousing applause. After the picture, President Carter presented Bibles to all of the homeowners present. I was walking back to the house with Richard, homeowner of house #949, as he read the inscriptions Millard and President Carter had written in the front, and he said, “I’m going to read this every night.”

We all wrote down our addresses and/or e-mail addresses for one another this afternoon, and I’m going to make copies for everyone tonight at the hotel so we can keep in touch. Max has taken more than 100 digital pictures so far, and he’s definitely going to have to e-mail some of them to me or post them on his Web site or something. Plus I know that Clive, a native of Durban, wants an American flag, so maybe I’ll mail him one when I get back to the States. In any case, I think we’d all like to keep in touch.

A crew of volunteers stayed late to spackle and hang drywall throughout the site tonight after dark (we have the electricity working in the house now, too!). In the morning, we should be ready to paint the interior, finish the installation of the plumbing fixtures, landscape—and dedicate the house in the afternoon!

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


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