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Hello from Mynia Egypt again! The second construction day is over. Our team has shared different moments and places since we started our construction. We have been assigned to many work sites, and have divided into small groups because the streets in the community are very narrow, making them hard to access for people, materials and tools.
We were constantly being rotated from one work site to another throughout the day. We are very happy to provide volunteer labor in many places, given the fact that Habitat for Humanity Egypt is serving multiple families in this community.
Most of the families have been living in crowded conditions. Several families might live in one house. In Egyptian culture, the animals they use for work or grow to eat also live within the same household, creating poor sanitary conditions–especially for the children.
We met some members of a local organization that has partnered with Habitat Egypt for around two years, called “Shining Tomorrow.” Their local members in charge of family selection. Families usually apply for a housing micro-credit to use for home improvements or renovation, or to build a second floor in the house where they already live in order to create privacy for each one of the families within the same property.
We have been pleasantly surprised with the number of people from all ages that gather around this group of foreigners who has come from the other side of the world to build with families in the community. Children are the most persistent and curious of them all… even when they are asked to stay away from the work site, they keep coming to see some more. They come to us with whatever English words they know, trying to communicate. They always ask, “what’s your name,” and then tell us theirs immediately after. Obviously, after 10 or 15 names I can’t remember the first one. :)
Pictures of the communities and its daily activities are taken every five minutes by us–but they are taking pictures of us too, which tells me they too want to keep the memories of our time in their lives.
Upon closure of our second day of construction, we take our tools and started to leave, already planning for the next day. Nevertheless, a whisper in my mind was telling me, “you’re waving good bye to all these friendly people and you just realized you’ll never see them again, because we will be building in another community far away from this one tomorrow.” My eyes start watering, but then I think I better get myself together because I don’t want to cause a commotion in the group. Tomorrow we will be in another community in as much or more need than the one we leave today, and Habitat’s volunteers will come to more homes and touch more lives.
See you again soon, friends. Pics follow…hope you enjoy!
Read previous posts from Mitssy’s trip to Egypt in the category Voices.
My name is Mitssy Rovira, and I live in the very small country of Costa Rica, located in Central America. I’m a single mom of two beautiful children, a boy who is 10 and a girl who is 7. I serve as the Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Latin America and Caribbean area office. This is how I learned about the millions of people who don’t have an adequate place to lay their head to sleep peacefully every night. I made it my personal goal to get involved…and to lead at least one volunteer missions trip to a different country every year.
I am excited about the opportunity to share this life-changing experience with other people, to provide hope and a hand up to Egyptian families in need of decent housing and to learn more about how to stay involved in the Habitat mission and continue advocating for adequate housing around the world.
Egypt is in northeastern Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Israel and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west. It is a land of extremes-a country with stark contrasts between rich and poor, educated and illiterate, men and women, arid desert and fertile valleys.
Besides the traditional program for new homes, Habitat Egypt offers non-profit credit to replace inadequate roofs for others made of wood. This change can create a safe home, protect families from natural elements and also permits the opportunity to construct a second floor in the future.
Most Global Village groups worked in rural areas of Egypt with low-income families to help build or improve their home. Normally members of the group help to prepare sand, mix cement, lay blocks, paint, or put up roofs. Houses in Egypt are constructed using locally-available materials that meet specific requirements. The houses have cement or ceramic floors, limestone or plaster walls and wood ceilings that are very safe.
On September 25th, I left for an 8am flight from Costa Rica with stops in Atlanta, New York and finally Cairo. This took me a day and a half. On the 26th of September at 5pm I checked into the Baron Hotel, starting this adventure.
At 11am on September 27th, 11 Habitat volunteers met in a hotel in the capital city of Cairo to take a bus to the town of Mynia. The scenery is indescribable and the city is full of buildings that resemble the color of the surrounding desert.
Once we left the city, we took the bus down a long, flat road, while our program coordinator gave us an overview of Habitat’s work in the country and explained how we, as volunteers, helped the mission. Some of the questions from the volunteers who had previous Habitat experience were directed toward Habitat’s concept of “sweat equity,” which doesn’t necessarily work the same way in all countries. Here in Egypt, people from the community will be helping onsite although they aren’t registering their volunteer hours as is done in the United States.
Most of us are still affected by the time and schedule change, as we have each traveled at least 10 hours to get to Cairo. Several of us rested our eyes before the arduous days of construction that lie ahead. Habitat Egypt tells us that we will be supporting two distant communities, and we separated into three groups. I particularly like this because we have the opportunity to see various forms of construction that basically uses the same materials – limestone.
As we move towards Minya, we are being escorted by a security guard sent from Cairo, who rides on our bus with us. Additionally, we have a squad car with four officials following us closely as we enter Beni Suef.
When we get to the Cleopatra Hotel in Mynia, we check in, take our luggage to the rooms and go to the restaurant on the eighth floor to have dinner and our first team meeting. From the windows, the majestic Nile River frames our conversation far from families, friends and colleagues. We prepare for our first day of work the next morning.
I managed to send a few photos to my colleagues back in Costa Rica…hope you enjoy!
Sifting sand to prepare the cement.
One of the two families who we will be working with this week.
Check out that pile of sand!
The second family we will be working with this week.
See you again soon!
Special thanks to volunteer Kelsey Halena for translation of this post.
Anticipándonos al Día Mundial de Hábitat, Mitssy Rovira y 10 personas voluntarias más de Hábitat estarán transmitiendo noticias desde Egipto, relatando la historia de un equipo dispuesto a trabajar hacia la meta de un techo adecuado para todos.
El 25 de septiembre del 2009, nuestra colega Mitssy Rovira—Coordinadora de Voluntariado Regional de Hábitat para la Humanidad América Latina y el Caribe—viajará a El Minya, Egipto, junto con 10 personas voluntarias más de diversos ámbitos sociales, países y clases socioeconómicas. Durante el viaje, Mitssy y su equipo estarán compartiendo sus pensamientos, historias y percepciones sobre la vivienda, solidaridad y trabajo de equipo hacia una causa común.
Los voluntarios de Hábitat para la Humanidad son personas apasionadas por la causa de las viviendas social y están en total disposición para recolectar fondos, apoyar y participar de todas las maneras que puedan para crear consciencia. El programa Aldea Global conecta los programas de Hábitat, familias socias y personas voluntarias alrededor del mundo, movilizando equipos desde y para Latinoamérica, Asia, África, Europa, Gran Bretaña, Canadá y los Estados Unidos para compartir sus experiencias y unificar el entusiasmo al cambio.
Ya sea contribuyendo con medios propios o a través de la recolección de fondos, los participantes cubren sus viáticos para lograr financiar y construir casas sencillas, adecuadas y asequibles junto con familias de otro país.
Cada voluntario trae consigo sus propias experiencias, su personalidad y, algunas veces, un reto único. Durante el viaje, los miembros del equipo pueden afrontar situaciones que jamás habían experimentado. Están en un ambiente extraño, lejos de su familia y amigos. La flexibilidad y la pasión por la causa son de gran ayuda para que los voluntarios superen estas situaciones.
Es posible que no exista un día normal en un viaje de la Aldea Global, pero es seguro que siempre incluirá trabajo duro, risas y conversaciones que cambiarán tu vida. El trabajo en equipo, mano a mano con las familias, mientras se construyen los hogares, generalmente incluye ayuda de miembros de la comunidad.
Las familias socias de Hábitat son formadas por personas que luchan por convertirse en dueños de sus hogares pero les ha sido imposible lograrlo a través de los medios convencionales. Las familias son escogidas de acuerdo a su necesidad, voluntad de asociarse a Hábitat y la capacidad que tengan para hacer el pago del préstamo sin cargos por fines lucrativos.
Para más información sobre el programa Aldea Global, por favor visita nuestra página Web.
Tienes una propia historia de voluntariado? Cuéntanos!
In anticipation of World Habitat Day, Habitat staffer Mitssy Rovira and 10 others will be blogging from Egypt, telling the story of one team working for one week towards the goal of adequate shelter for all.
On September 25, 2009, our colleague Mitssy Rovira—Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean—will travel to El Mynia, Egypt, along with 10 other volunteers from diverse walks of life. During the trip, Mitssy and her team will be sharing their thoughts, stories and insights about housing, solidarity and working together towards a common cause.
Habitat for Humanity volunteers are individuals who are passionate about the cause of poverty housing, and are willing to fundraise, advocate and participate in whatever way they can in order to promote it. The Global Village program connects Habitat programs, partner families and volunteers around the world, mobilizing teams to and from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Great Britain, Canada and the United States to share their diverse experiences and a unified zeal for change.
Either contributing their own funds, or through fundraising, participants cover their travel expenses in order to help fund and build simple, adequate, affordable houses in partnership with families in another country.
Each volunteer brings to the group unique experiences, a unique personality and, sometimes, a unique challenge. During the trip, team members may face situations they have never encountered. They are in strange surroundings, away from family and friends. Flexibility and passion for the cause come a long way in helping volunteers to overcome these situations.
A typical day on a Global Village trip might not exist, but will always include hard work, laughs and life-changing conversations. The teams work side by side partner families while they build their homes, often involving other members of the local community.
Habitat partner families are people who strive to be homeowners, but have been unable to attain that goal through conventional means. Families are chosen for Habitat’s diverse housing solutions according to their need and willingness to partner.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity and the Global Village program, please visit our website.
Have a volunteer story to share? Tell us here!