The email I received in July 2012 that I had won the Habitat World photo contest brought a feeling of joy. I am a professional photographer and volunteer with my local affiliate, Habitat Montgomery County in Gaithersburg, Maryland. As a thank you for my many years of volunteering, the office manager entered my photo of a homeowner completing his sweat equity hours at his home.
The 2012 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Leogane, Haiti, was unforgettable and a truly unique experience. It was my first time physically building and being in front of a camera on a build site. My team was amazingly patient and cooperative, despite the blazing heat and quirks of working abroad. Between them, our delightful homeowners and the other 600 volunteers, every day was an adventure.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and there is no doubt that their need for housing and medical care is substantial. But the way in which Habitat brings people and cultures together addresses what I see as the world’s greatest need. The relationships, respect and understanding built during our time onsite creates an honest perspective and an awareness that can be shared and spread.
I will never forget the pride of the homeowners working beside us, the broad smiles as we neared completion and the hugs goodbye. I believe these homes will create a nurturing community and encourage growth and optimism — something important to a country that has lost so much, but also in our own backyards.
- Check out a Facebook photo album of the images Jessica captured during her build week. Feel free to like and share!
- Find out how to enter the 2013 Habitat World photo contest today.