On Working with Women Build
This summer I had the opportunity to be one of ten Summer VISTAs here at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. When I first found out I had been assigned to work with the supervisor Terra and the Women Build House, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I only knew that there would be exclusively female volunteers, and that lunch would be provided every day. It wasn’t until about half way through the summer that it hit me what women build was really about.
It happened when we were hoisting up roof trusses, a task that Terra and I weren’t even sure was possible. It was a hot afternoon (like many of the afternoons this summer) and we were already tired from the long morning of taking down and setting up scaffolding. Despite the fact we were sore, sweating, and tired, we lifted those trusses up the two floors in what seemed like no time at all. To be a part of a group of strong women like this made me realize why women build is such a powerful experience. It gives us women a chance to push ourselves, and do things we didn’t think were possible. It’s a place where women can empower each other and connect on a level that only women can share. I could not have been luckier to have been a part of such an amazing experience. And what made my experience was the people I served with every day. I met such incredible women including Terra, the crew leaders, and the first time habitat volunteers. But there was one woman in particular who really stood out to me, and that was the homebuyer, Muna.
The first time I met Muna she stopped by the site before there was much construction going on, only the foundation and the first story floor. Now, looking back at the encounter, I wonder what she was thinking. I wonder if she was imagining what her future home would look like, and where her two children would play or do homework. Was she nervous, was she excited? For the next eight weeks I got to work side by side with Muna as she was putting in her sweat equity hours.
If you have ever met Muna, you would know that she is a quiet person. However, you would never have guessed that by the way she hammers a nail! She was one of the hardest working people on site, and I admire her persistence. I remember one day during lunch, we were all exhausted by another hot day, and were excited to take a break and eat. Muna wasn’t eating though, and she told us that it was Ramadan, and therefore wasn’t allowed to eat when the sun was up. Despite this fact, she stilled worked just as hard, if not harder, than the rest of us.
However, there is one memory in particular that has truly inspired me and the work I do in family services. One afternoon, Muna brought her son, Ayub, to site to check out their house. I will never forget the sheer and utter joy on his face when he ran into the house. My eyes teared up as this little boy ran through to house saying that he wanted his room to be blue. I imagined how this home, how all the work done by Habitat employees and the volunteers, could change the lives of Ayub and his family.
By Dana Goetsch, Family Services VISTA