In September 2016, Raymond Kitson spent two weeks in Addis Ababa, supporting our Ethiopia Partnership. He worked beside the local community to improve sanitation facilities in the slums.
After reading an article in a church magazine, I saw that Habitat for Humanity were looking for Global Volunteers to support their work around the world. I felt that this was a 'call'. I believed I could make a difference, if only in a very small way. So I signed up for as Global Volunteer to work Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in August 2016.
My trip to Ethiopia was a humbling experience, witnessing true poverty every day. I was only a very small cog in helping Habitat for Humanity deliver a world where everybody should have a decent place to live and have access to proper sanitation facilities.
I joined a team of independent members, coming from different backgrounds from all over Northern Ireland, so everyone was a complete stranger to me. Well that soon changed, as we all became incredibly good friends. We were all were given various tasks that suited our abilities. I was responsible for looking after the transport department, which sounds grand indeed (although others may call it wheel-barrow duty).
Our team assisted in building two separate toilet blocks, one of which was at a local school consisting of 1600 pupils. The school had only six toilets between girls and boys.
With my background knowledge in the building trade I thought this should help, but I soon realised how easy we have it in Northern Ireland. I got my eyes opened, as everything has to be done by hand, from carrying the stones to mixing the cement, we had no machinery what so ever. The work was hard but so rewarding.
We were welcomed by the locals who were so excited to see us, and grateful that we were there to help build with them. They were so enthusiastic, always smiling, yet they have nothing- living in slums, with no facilities.
Although the school was closed when we first arrived, the new term began before we left and our team was able meet a lot of the children who will benefit from our work. The smiles on their faces said it all!
We did not see the finished build due to limited time of our trip. We did however get to see the progress we had made, from just the foundations to the block work at chest height. Our last day at the school was special as the team shared and celebrated the work achieved and the new friendships we had made with the locals, I will never forget them.
This trip is something I had wanted to do for quite a few years and would recommend it to anyone as Habitat for Humanity need you. I often say, "No one can do everything but everyone can do something". This was such as humbling and rewarding experience and I would encourage everyone to sign up Global Volunteering as we can all make a difference.