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Monday, June 15, 2009

Habitat for Humanity - Global Village

     Hubbie and I have begun a new adventure - exploring our own state of Georgia. Why? I'm illustrating a new picture book for Sterling Children's Books - "The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia" (Christmas 2010) written by my friend, Susan Rosson Spain. Sterling is doing one of these for each state and I'm honored to be the illustrator for Georgia!
     Despite living here most of my life, I'm learning tons because I need to visit several of the sites to be able to accurately illustrate them. For instance, Saturday we visited the Habitat for Humanity Global Village in Americus, Georgia to see examples of the houses they build all over the world as well as the bricks that make them possible.

     The first part of the tour is an example of the typical shanty towns found throughout the world. And although it's not supposed to be specific to any one region, it looked exactly like what Stan and I saw in Nairobi, Kenya during our honeymoon. The example is quiet and clean, but it's not hard to imagine the noise , smells, and lack of water and privacy people have to deal with.
     What struck me strongest was the school:

     Can you imagine the dedication it would take to try to learn in this environment? A friend of mine who works with CARE (with offices here in Atlanta) mentioned another concern students hit - there will often be a bathroom nearby for the male students, but not the females which keeps many of them away for obvious reasons.
     Also humbling was how it doesn't take much to elevate the conditions for people. Most of the houses we saw had no electricity or running water. The connection to the outdoors was much more tangible. For instance, here is a typical school in Africa:

     The homes Habitat for Humanity creates in other countries are not luxurious by American standards, but they can be life-changing for the people who receive them. Hand-made bricks are a big part of that. This is what I needed to see:

     They pack a slurry of ground and water and pack it down into the cavity then use an arm (not showing) to press it down into a brick . . . one at a time. It's hard work and can take two people several weeks to create enough bricks for one home. But the bricks have an interlocking design that makes them much easier for novices to use. In other words, they work.
     Want to help? You can buy a personalized brick at the Global Village for a donation of $100.
     All said, it was a wonderful Saturday bimble. Americus is charming. We ate at a new restaurant (Sue Baby's?), bought fresh veggies at their farmer's market and enjoyed the scenery all the way down and back. Mostly, we returned home with a humble feeling of how incredibly lucky we are to live where we do.

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