By Howard and Christeen Jesse, father/daughter Habitat Regina volunteers
During a 2009 Global Village trip, a colleague and I discussed taking our daughters on a trip. On our return, we presented the possibility to the girls and, to no surprise, found their response overwhelmingly supportive. We recruited 12 dads and daughters and embarked on our first Father/Daughter Global Village trip in February 2012. To say the trip was extraordinary is an understatement. The chance to experience it all with our daughters was truly a highlight of my life.
We bonded as a team because we shared the common experience of truly giving ourselves to the build and to the people of El Salvador. Our relationships were tested but strengthened as we toiled in the extreme temperatures and the intense manual labor. We were impressed and motivated by each other’s work ethic, our ability to work as a team and most importantly our ability to laugh and find the true joy in working for a cause that became very near and dear to us all.
On our last evening, the common sentiment was that we had all became a family: five new daughters, five new fathers and 10 new friends that will forever have shared the experience of a lifetime.
Immediately upon arriving home, we began planning a return. Once again during the February university break, the majority of the original team and eight new members from across Canada formed the 2013 team. The bond was immediate — our relationships with each other, our interpreters, the homeowners and the citizens of San Vicente drew us together.
On our last evening, stories and reflections proved how truly powerful the GV experience is and how very wonderful sharing it with your father or daughter was for everyone. We laughed and cried for many hours. I am a truly blessed person and father. My love for my daughter grew exponentially every day on each trip as I admired her ability to cope, learn, teach, work, play and laugh.
The 2014 Father/Daughter Global Village trip is already in the planning stages!
El Salvador holds a special place in my heart.
I feel blessed to have spent time in the country twice in two years, not only building homes, but also building relationships. I am constantly thinking of “mi familia” — the 10 dads and 10 sisters I now have after these trips, as well as the families, masons and interpreters who guided us along the way.
Our team took care of each other and immediately functioned as a well-oiled machine on the work sites — a testament to the trust and mutual respect that existed in our group. There were days where dads struggled with the heat and daughters with the physical labor, but we constantly pushed our limits, always inspired and motivated by the people working by our sides.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that my Global Village travels have been highlights of my life. And to be able to experience it all with my dad means the world to me. He has always been much more than just a father figure — he is also my friend and my role model. There’s no doubt that we are a close pair, but these trips only further solidified our bond and intensified my respect for him.
As if that wasn’t enough, to see other fathers and daughters grow closer throughout the experience was incredibly rewarding. Our teams proved not only the physical strength of the girls and dads, but also the emotional strength in a father/daughter bond. It has the potential to be unstoppable and indestructible.
I couldn’t be happier to have seen this bond built among my team members and to hold it with my own father. Here’s to many more pairs who will build their own on Father/Daughter trips in the future!