What makes a house a home? I recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, where I participated with several other CEOs from various Habitat for Humanity affiliates from around the country to learn about the impact Habitat is having in the Dominican Republic.
We had the opportunity to work alongside one of the families Habitat Dominican Republic is helping to build a home. A mom and her baby lived in what we would describe in the U.S. as a shack. It was next to her parent’s home that didn’t have enough room in it for her and her baby. Corrugated metal was manipulated, along with metal and wood scraps to form the exterior. It had no indoor plumbing or electricity. Most of us have better accommodations for our lawnmowers.
At no more than 150 square feet of space, this was her house. It kept her mostly safe from rain and the elements. She stored what clothes and possessions she had in it. She sleeps in it and is raising her child in it. Soon Habitat Dominican Republic will work alongside her to finish her block home that will have indoor plumbing and electricity, which will greatly improve her safety and health conditions for her baby and give her more space.
I had walked inside to see the interior of the house that she called home. As I exited the darkness of the house and entered the bright, afternoon sunlight through the one doorway, I discovered what made the house a home. My head grazed a small, but shiny wind chime, hanging from the top of the doorway. As I turned back to look at the full structure, I was struck by the fact that no matter the condition of her house, this mom was going to do what she could to make it her home. To me, this wind chime symbolized her effort to make it her home.
Maybe watching the chimes dance under a brisk wind took her mind off of reality. Maybe she liked how the solid shine of wind chimes glittered against the rugged tapestry of metal and wood, or even less esoteric, maybe it simply was her way of turning a house into a home.
Habitat for Humanity currently works in nearly 70 countries worldwide and has helped more than 6.8 million people with improved living conditions since 1976. Strength, stability and independence are key components to the work we do. What is at the heart of what we do is creating a better a home situation. By doing this, we are truly fulfilling the vision to provide everyone a decent place to live and call home.