A few years ago, in my Economic Development and Sociology courses, theoretical debates about “poverty” and how to address it seemed complex. However, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity took this theoretical debate to a very practical setting where reality is all the more complex. Meeting the poor, the marginalized, the widows, the sick, and trying to discuss with them potential ways to save and budget for their months was both eye-opening and humbling.
On one of my trips to South Lebanon with habitat one woman mentioned she could rarely ever save any of her income. When trying to understand the reasons for that, she mentioned that she had an asthmatic child whose medicine costs deplete more than half her income. I then voiced another question in an attempt to understand her situation: “do you know why your daughter has asthma?”
Her confident answer was very clear: “yes, the doctor said that because we lived in an unfinished home for a very long time, and it was extremely humid. At least now Habitat has helped me fix my home. This has positively impacted the entire family”. Clearly poverty is a cycle. Being unable to pay to finish one’s home will affect the household’s health which then feeds back into other paralyzing situations.
Habitat works at the front lines of poverty. They do not pretend to solve it, but they contribute with extremely helpful and needed solutions, and they do it with a joyful, servant heart. This is, in my opinion, what characterizes Habitat for Humanity Lebanon!
– Manal El Tayar