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In June 2019, Victoria travelled with a team from Carrickmacross Parish to support Habitat projects in Malawi. Here, she told us about her experience.

This summer I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and travelled with 15 others from Carrickmacross as part of Habitats Orphans and Vulnerable Groups project. My team were based in Kachulu Village in Madisi, Malawi and were supporting the project by building two homes for vulnerable families.

On signing up for the trip I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had never done anything like this before but knew it was something that I had always wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about it. So when the opportunity came I jumped at it.

The 10 days we spent in Malawi will be 10 days I will never forget. Although you can read other people’s stories and experiences, the happiness and gratitude of the people you meet is beyond what you could ever imagine.

When we arrived on site the first day, we were greeted by a whole village singing and dancing to welcome us, guiding the bus the rest of the way down the road. The sheer joy they had to see us coming, knowing that two families were about to have a safe home to live, was like nothing I have ever experienced. We were introduced to the families we were there to support, as well as the village chiefs and the local masons who would be helping us build.

It was so interesting to learn that Habitat for Humanity train up local masons, employing them to help in the building process and allowing them to gain experience, so that in the future they will have a better chance to secure employment. The work was tough, as we had no machinery, but there were always plenty of people around to help in the more labour intensive tasks; like mixing cement. As most of us had never built before, we were all new to the process but the local masons were so kind and patient guiding us every step of the way. They even taught us some Chichewa (the local language) so we could communicate with the locals when asking for building supplies.

Something I was wary of was the potential language barrier between the builders and our team, but communication was very easy and the Habitat staff spoke excellent English, allowing easy translation.

One of the most humbling parts of the trip was the sheer happiness of everyone around you.

They have nothing, yet they have everything.

The smiles on their faces as you make a fool of yourself dancing and singing for the village. The fact that they could take anything, like plastic bags, and turn them into a football makes you step back and realise the important things in life. Like family, community and friendships.

From start to finish the trip was something I will never forget and really hope that now I have returned home, I can continue to build, by supporting Habitat’s work that goes on every day.

You can get involved in 2020, and transform a family's life through Youth Build like Declan! Learn more and sign up here or read more global volunteering stories here.

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