The Habitat Adventure begins...
The 10th graders, Frau Boos and Mr. Brightman all made it safely to Hungary today.  We had a long day of traveling--airport delays and a long bus ride through the countryside-- before arriving at our service site, the quiet village of Berekfürdõ in central Hungary at around 18.30. 

At dinner, the mayor and deputy mayor of Berekfürdõ warmly welcomed us and shared the background and highlights of their village.  Only 1.000 people live in Berekfürdõ, but over 100,000 tourists visit the healing baths in the region each year.  The mayor joked that our group was far too young to enjoy the medicinal relief provided by the baths but hoped we would find other ways to have fun in Berekfürdõ when we weren't working on our renovation project.  We were all surprised and humbled by the fact that the mayor and deputy mayor took time on a Sunday to welcome us and thank us for volunteering to help the people in their community--now our community as of tonight.

After saying farewell to them, we met our Habitat for Humanity hosts, Sandor and Edit.  They introduced us to the organization and briefly discussed the history of Habitat for Humanity in Hungary.  When Habitat for Humanity originally started in Hungary in 1996, the organization and its service teams built 150 houses in the first year.  At the end of the year, the organization reassessed its approach and realized that their resources could have been used more effectively to accomplish the same goal:  providing affordable housing for those in need.  Over 1.2 million Hungarians live in substandard housing with enormous energy costs.  However, there is no lack of housing; the existing housing just needs to be renovated to conserve energy.  By renovating homes and modernizing them, the quality of life will improve because poor families will be able to save so much on high energy costs. 

In Berekfürdõ, the homes we will be renovating are owned by the local government and rented out to the residents.  The local governments do not make enough on the rent to upgrade the housing, and the residents cannot afford their high energy bills and to upgrade their homes at the same time.  That's where we come in.  Habitat for Humanity has welcomed volunteers from all over the world to Berekfürdõ to provide the materials and labor necessary to modernize homes and work side-by-side with residents to improve their quality of life. 

After our session with Sandor and Edit, we reflected on the journey that brought us here--from when Fr. Boos introduced this project until now.  Many students expressed pride in how well they had worked together to raise money in various ways independently of their parents.  Some talked about the failures they initially experienced as well as the problems they were able to solve and improve upon over time.  As the discussion evolved, students began making connections between the lessons they learned during the fundraising phase of the project and the teamwork we will need to successfully complete the building project here in Berekfürdõ.  At first, it appeared difficult to discuss these issues so openly and publicly, but by the end of our reflection circle discussion, each team member had shared his or her enthusiasm and trepidation about the week ahead.  Tomorrow, we begin work at 8.00!...

Mr. Brightman

Andreas Koini
5/22/2011 04:04:19 pm

Dear all,
we are all very proud of you and the efforts you have already made to make this project a successful one. Happy house building and take care of yourselfes and your Hungarian friends.

Russell Edwards
5/22/2011 10:16:54 pm

Great to hear that you all made it safely there. Am impressed that the mayor made such an effort to welcome you.

Lisha Crawford
5/23/2011 02:32:44 am

What a great experience for everyone. You will be proud of being gernerous and giving your service as I am already. Don't forget to make memories. Be safe, be smart and have fun!

Marie-Line Maxant-Domke
5/24/2011 05:35:56 pm

Great job ! Du bon boulot !

Best wishes an all the big team !

victor williams
5/25/2011 12:10:03 pm

Le BonTon Roule? Let the good times roll?!?

Luke Ames
5/26/2011 08:00:18 am

Hello Grade 10! I am a bit envious that you all are doing construction, but so very happy to see that you are accomplishing your goal. Work long days. Sit back at the end of the day and look at all that you have accomplished. Look at the smiles that you bring to those in need. Keep all of these feelings and memories; they ARE some of the greatest that you will ever have.


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