Today as I was researching Habitat for Humanity, I learned how far its helping hand reaches: Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States and Canada. I had no idea.
Even more interesting, though, is that Habitat continues to build in such war-torn counties as Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a time when many Americans are concerned only with their current economic crisis, Habitat is providing the people of Afghanistan with First Shelter homes and the Save & Build program.
Habitat's First Shelter homes are in the traditional style of building with earth, brick and straw and a dome roof for temperature control. In Afghanistan, this method of building is the norm, but Habitat carries the green building trend to more and more of its homes around the world. This is especially relevant to us here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS; in fact, you can learn more about building with natural materials by reading Building with Earth, April/May 2002.
The Save & Build program allows families to raise some of their own support while receiving help from Habitat. Most commonly, a dozen families work to raise money to build one home, and then Habitat triples that amount to build two more. This system continues until all the families are housed, and it grants them the pride of knowing they contributed to the construction of their own home.
The most amazing part of all of this is that Habitat for Humanity Afghanistan was not born until 2002—after Sept. 11 and the beginning of the War on Terror. Although Habitat's website states that it is not currently hosting any international volunteers in Afghanistan, I am pleasantly surprised that efforts there trudge forward. More than 184 homes have been constructed with Save & Build and more than 335 families have received First Shelter homes.
Kudos to Habitat for Humanity for recognizing that political or religious differences should not affect one's willingness to help.
Habitat may not be sending American volunteers to Afghanistan, but you can help locally and learn more at the Habitat for Humanity website.
Photos courtesy of Habitat for Humanity International