Well Greg and I just returned from Habitat for Humanity Trip in Hungary, one of the countries I support in CEE. I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing experience and how much we really enjoyed it! It was a great team and amazing families we were helping out. We were a team of 19 from USA, Germany, Canada and Australia. The families we were helping would have to put in 1200 hours of work on their homes before they can finally move in and 25 more teams will join our build before the two homes will be completed.
So the trip began in Budapest, Hungary meeting each other and having a tour of the city before we headed to 10 days of manual labor on building the two homes in Hajdúböszörmény, Hungary (the rest of the blog I will refer to as Hadju). We had a great time site seeing, except poor Greg had caught my cold from Spain and now was feeling absolutely miserable and getting no sleep-keeping me up every night was very nice…We rolled in late at night in Hadju and drove past a huge indoor pool thinking we must be staying in a high school gym in red cross cot accommodations. To our surprise we were staying in a newly built apartment like facilities with private bathrooms/kitchen/dining facilities all in our rooms. SUPER NICE and event better THERMAL HOT SPRINGs right below. So every day after our tired sore muscles were done working we all plunged into thermal hot springs, steam and dry saunas and when they could fit us in- 20 minute Hungarian massages. I know sounds really rough, but it was hard work!
The build included long days from 8AM-4PM with a lunch break and of course the union 2 15 minute breaks during the day. We became known a DREAM TEAM REBAR as all we did day after day was tie rebar to make the foundation. Since the homes were being building on landfill we had to have intense foundation and two levels of 25 cm squares of rebar. We sang daily Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to rebar we go…. We all got skilled at tying rebar, pouring and laying foundation, creating and building forms, doing trim, mudding, drilling, pounding, screwing and lots of squatting! But we were a very lucky skilled team. First we had our fearless leader who had done many Habitat Builds and even builds in Hungary– Gary you are the man! Then our local project manager lead Pisti- who was amazing and always by our sides trying to always keep the team happy! The construction manager Sandor was on vacation when we arrived but became our good friend the last 2 days of our build when he returned. Next we had a whole team of habitat veterans Bill, Karen, Grant, Julie, Bob and Diana (Diana was on her 15th with 3 in this year alone- amazing woman!). Then we had the great emailing blackberry duo from Alaska- Lisa and Hanna. Lisa later became our onsite hair dresser! We could go no wrong with Kai who knew how to do everything and was our knowledgeable onsite carpenter, construction guy! And to make us females proud the hardest working woman on the trip who gave some of the men a run for the money- Linda! We also got lots of help from our teachers from Auzzie Land John and Kathy who knew how to motivate. Then of course you had the rest of us, who took good instruction and executed as well as our leaders told us and became known as the Rebar Dream Team: Greg, Rane, Lloyd, John, Marty and Corlan. We still have to give a little more credit to John who made sure we were all entertained and always laughing. You could be on the other side of town and still hear John! Each night we had little parties to get to know each other better either in the hallway or in Suite Stempson, or Suite Auzzies! I think Greg at the end got tired of me always volunteering to host everyone in our room and playing the nightly slideshow of pictures I took for the day.
We also had a chance to get a tour of Hadju by some adorable high school habitat volunteers and then headed to Debrecen the second largest city in Hungary for a day long tour on our day off. It was very nice. It was interesting to learn that the Hungarian government recently passed a law that after noon businesses had to close on Saturday and everything closed on Sunday to ensure people took time to relax because folks were working too much and too hard. Americans really need to take that advice!
The best part of the trip was the last night at the work site. Team Dining Room of John, Lloyd, Greg and I built the outdoor party room with a 45 person long dining room table, the bathtub bar and serving tables and decorated cement dance floor for us to have a farewell dinner with the families. It was a blast the kids were so cute and the parents were so appreciative. The families even made us traditional Hungarian Goulash on the fire outside- it was so good! Folks got a little teary-eyed and we had our farewell Palenka shots. I could go on for days about the experience but pictures are better than words… All I can say is if you have time to do a Habitat Build it will be a great rewarding experience to transform people’s lives and to meet the most amazing people. I am very excited to know our fearless leader Gary has agreed to take this crazy group back in 2010 as we head to help families in Portugal. Because of this experience I am going to pressure my CEE Headquarters’ team at Microsoft to do a Corporate Blitz Build which is 3 days and 50 people. Greg and I look forward to heading back in May to see the progress and to be Co-Team Leaders for Team Microsoft. More pictures to come then… Please encourage your companies to join into Habitat! It is an amazing experience…I hope my fellow build members will add their comments to this blog thread as they are all amazing people with amazing stories to share…
Sorry seems I am having issues uploading pictures you can see them on my facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id=1022073133