About Habitat for Humanity (HFH)
Habitat for Humanity builds livable, decent houses for those who need them, with the help of volunteers and the homeowner families themselves. These houses are sold to owners without profit and financed with sustainable, zero-interest loans. So, Paul, most travelers travel for leisure or business, but you and your friends took a different route. How did that come about? What inspired you to go on such a unique trip?
Inspiration is easy when you know you are helping a cause. In this instance, even more so, since I was an ambassador, representing HFH and the team from Singapore. I had always wanted to be part of a build and this was my first real opportunity, so I was all in even though I could only be there for half of it.
Can you share with us more about your trip?
Being one of the ambassadors for HFH, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Chang Mai for the Jimmy Carter Build i. The build was for 1 week, but unfortunately, I could only stay for 3 days as I had filming to come back for. I was designated the house leader which was super special and for my 3 days there, I worked endlessly, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the end. As an ambassador, HFH sponsored my trip and I paid for half of the airfare up to Thailand. Once again, I was very fortunate.
Can you share with us some of the highlights of the trip?
Well, it was HOT!!! For that time of year, that was actually unexpected. But my main highlights were actually learning how to build; we were le arning from senior volunteers and putting in a lot of effort. Without a doubt, meeting the family I was building a house for, meeting Jimmy Carter, and last but not least having Nakata, the Japanese football star on my team, were great memories. I love Thailand, so just being up north in the mountainous region was just amazing. The opening dinner and the cultural/food festival were also enjoyable and memorable.
As they say, a picture tells a thousand words. If there is one image of the trip that impacted you the most, what would that be and why? I received this picture after I had been home for a while after the build. This had the most impact because I never got to see the finished product of what I started. It was even more special when HFH told me that the family was so happy and emotional, beyond speechless and with tears. So it really proved that what we were doing was something meaningful and special in changing people’s lives. Do you have any tips for other travelers thinking of going on a similar trip? Yes, embrace the whole experience! Rest well, hydrate, and get ready to do some hard manual laborist easy to build a home, but it’s a tremendously gratifying experience.
Having experienced such a trip, do you have any thoughts to share with us?
The build was truly inspiring. To have so many people from all over the world come together to build an entire village of homes was amazing. I was physically and emotionally spent. Honestly, upon leaving Thailand at the airport, a flood of emotions overcame me. The fact was knowing how much we achieved in such little time for so many people was somewhat overwhelming. If you were to have a chance to be part of a build anywhere in the world, do it!!!