Eagle County volunteers find life-changing experiences
Ryan Summerlin January 4, 2013
Editor’s note: This is the third of four articles about local Habitat for Humanity volunteers’ recent trip to Nepal.
In the fall of 2011, I had the life changing opportunity to travel halfway around the world with four friends from Vail to Cambodia to join an International Habitat Build. We joined a team of 300 other volunteers to build 22 400-square-foot eco-friendly soil brick homes outside the capital city of Phnom Penh. The experience had such an impact on my life that this year I would share a similar adventure with my daughter. Sarah and I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, with 21 Vail volunteers to join hundreds of volunteers from around the world and the partner families to construct 37 adobe brick and bamboo homes. Our build was part of Habitat for Humanity International’s ambitious goal to eliminate poverty housing around the world.
While I have been involved with our local Habitat affiliate for over 14 years, I feel these unique opportunities not only benefit the partner families in these greatly impoverished counties, but also the ambassadorial goodwill that is generated by seeing 10 colorful Habitat buses with representatives from countries around the world pull into these remote villages and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the partner families and their community of neighbors. The impact really cannot be measured.
The impact on my life was also immeasurable. I am so grateful to meet like-minded volunteers from not only the Vail Valley, but from around the world, to share rewarding, and often challenging situations and to develop long lasting relationships with our team. We were all very patient and supportive of each. The laughing and sometimes the crying, the blisters, the sore backs, the dirt that never washed out of your clothes, the pre-dawn jogs in the local neighborhoods, the awakening to a totally different culture and the everlasting memories that we returned home with have changed each of our lives. And I cannot express how much it meant for me to share this experience with my daughter! It has certainly enriched our relationship in such profound ways. I further understand the saying that it is more valuable to invest in experiences than in material things.
I strongly encourage anyone who might be interested in these types of cultural, humanitarian opportunities to contact Habitat for Humanity. Our local Habitat organization strives to coordinate one trip per year to far-reaching destinations as well as having endless opportunities to support local building efforts. Stretch yourself a little and get involved. Meet the local families and like-minded volunteers. I guarantee it will change your life.
Bob Moroney is the club director at the Arrowhead Alpine Club.