By Chelsie McKnight
Global Village trip participant, Mozambique, October 2009
Sharing your story after a Global Village trip is an important way to build momentum. Chelsie McKnight sent the following message to donors after her. The document included photographs from the trip and links to donate more to Habitat for Humanity Mozambique or join a Global Village trip.
Back in one piece! Here’s the summary of one of the best adventures of my life!
The trip was an incredible success! Seven days, 16 volunteers, 19 houses, 19 guardians and approximately 60 children with a place to call home!
I mixed cement, sawed reeds and trees, pushed wheelbarrows full of sand and rocks, thatched roofs, tamped floors and put grout between cement blocks. I made 16 new friends. I ate delicious meals, drank cold South African cider and took cold showers after sweaty nine-hour work days. I danced with children to the music of Michael Jackson. I danced with villagers on my birthday, and I danced with children who followed me around Massaca.
I saw orphanages, AIDS ribbons painted on walls, children without shoes or toys, medical clinics, and a first-hand look at what disparity really is. I was immersed in a foreign culture. I learned about hard work and community. I witnessed gratitude. I fell in love with Mozambique—the country and the people.
I was able to get “back to the basics” and enjoy the company of others, good conversation, homemade meals, working with my hands and gazing at the stars like I’ve never seen them before. I did not miss my blackberry, my bed, my TV, my fridge or my shower. I did not want to come home.
Let me assure you that your donations were well-utilized and will make a difference in the lives of 19 families. I honestly cannot think of a more worthy cause—decent, safe shelter and a place to call home seem so simple. These homes will empower the families that live in them and give them a sense of belonging and hope.
Mozambique has 1.5 million orphans. With 1.5 million people infected with HIV, the average life expectancy is 48 years. Fifty percent of the people live below the poverty line. Habitat homes—with concrete floors, sturdy walls, mosquito nets and latrines—help protect families from health hazards posed by rain, insects and sanitation issues. When one grandmother was asked what she looked forward to the most, she replied; “The concrete foundation. My granddaughter Juliette will never sleep in the water again.”
I worked alongside the mothers, grandmothers and children that will be living in these homes. Despite the language barrier, we laughed at the same things, we sang songs, danced together, cried together, shared meals and helped each other. It was so evident to me that we are the same. We all belong to the same “global village.” It seems unjust that I left the village to return to the comforts I take for granted. I am no more deserving of the surroundings and life I have here than the people I met in Mozambique.
It is so clear to me now that I must share what I have for the rest of my life. I will continue to share my time with those who need a helping hand. I will share my health and able body with those who struggle with theirs. I will share my wealth and belongings with those who were born without the chance to acquire the same things. I will share my knowledge and stories in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
Here is a quote from Mother Teresa that inspires me to continue to do good and serve:
“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.”