Cape Town bound

You can find Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and our volunteers working right around the corner, but through our Global Village Mission Trips, we’re also working to build quality, affordable shelter around the world. We invite you to experience our recent Global Village trip to Cape Town, South Africa, through the eyes and adventures of volunteer and guest blogger Stephanie Dubinsky. This is the first post in her 3-part blog series chronicling the trip.

We all knew this would be the trip of a lifetime. What we didn’t know is how fabulously tiring and exhilarating this project would be. Not only did we gain knowledge and experience in a new culture, but we connected with our work family (fellow Lindsay Corporation employees) in a totally new way. Though this journal will give a glimpse into what we did each day, it won’t truly encompass the impact we now carry with us.

Days 1 and 2

We flew through Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Cape Town. It took just over 27 hours including layovers. Gavin, one of our leaders from Lindsay Corporation South Africa, met us at the airport and whisked us away to Rodenbosch, a southern suburb of Cape Town. By the time we got to our hotel, we were all ready to sleep! We met up the next morning for a cultural day and got our first glimpse at the beauty and history of South Africa!

Day 3

We took a tour of the Western Cape with Johan, another leader who filled us in on the history of the country, as well as shared interesting anecdotes about the sites. We drove to the waterfront to take in the first views of the ocean. We continued through to Hout Bay and stopped off for lunch. After getting acquainted with our new surroundings, we returned to the hotel for our Habitat for Humanity orientation and dinner featuring local cuisine and game meat. We had great conversation and ended our evenings with a traditional desert. What a welcome!

Day 4 (and Day 1 of the work week)

We started our day with breakfast in the dining room and a devotion. Then we made our way to Lindsay Africa to lead the first round of volunteers to the job site. We gathered at the Habitat for Humanity tent and met more volunteers, had some coffee and magwinya (deep-fried donuts), and listened to the safety briefing. Gavin, with Habitat for Humanity, demonstrated how to move cinder blocks through a brick chain. We walked to our job site and split up into two teams. The foundation/concrete floor had already been poured. We cleaned up the area then waited for the outer wall cinder blocks to be delivered. We met the masons, and they showed us how to mix dugha (hoi!). Dugha is a mortar mixed with one bag of cement, two wheelbarrows of sand, and water. We mixed a large amount in the center of the concrete slab, then placed piles around the corners and sides for the masons to begin stacking the blocks. We did this all week while we constructed the outer walls of our houses.

The Food Pantry provided delicious sack lunches. They were generous and filling, so we gifted all extra food to the neighborhood. In the afternoon, I walked down to the other site to see how things were progressing. As I walked back, a little girl waved hi to me. I waved back and knelt down to interact with her. She pointed to my glove, so I took it off and showed her my bare hand. She put her hand up to mine and said, “Oh!” I felt like Tarzan when he took Jane’s glove off and realized they were the same. It was heartwarming!

We returned to our hotel for well-deserved showers and rest. Later, we met for dinner in the dining room. Ken with Habitat for Humanity of Omaha asked us to reflect on this question throughout the week: “What were your expectations coming here, and how have they changed?” I think I speak for everyone in our group when I say we had no idea how full our hearts would be at the end of the week.

Blog edited for content and shared, along with photos, with permission of the author. Read part two in this three-part blog series.