Paddy has been involved for many years supporting Habitat through volunteering at events; as part of the Gilnahirk/St. Colmcille’s church partnership and as a Youth Build Leader to Romania. Paddy was also part of the Panel that helped set up Habitat’s Youth Advocacy Programme – Ground Breakers.

Read his Advent reflection below:

“Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home.” Romans 12:13

Among my favourite quote of experiencing Habitat for Humanity is ‘we are building people not houses’. I have seen many people built in positive ways through the Habitat experience including new home owners, local construction workers, volunteers, staff and not least myself. Moreover, we build relationships often breaking social borders of race, class, faith or any divisive entity.

New home owning beneficiaries will gain more than a small piece of construction to claim as their official address. They will gain dignity, land rights, status, self-respect and renewed hope for their future. I have encountered numerous owners of Habitat built homes through the years I have been involved as a volunteer. It has been constantly evident that these individuals have requirements met not only that they so desperately need and want, but much more importantly that they deserve.

This was particularly evident during the most recent youth build project I was a part of in July 2019. Towards the end of our trip, we visited families that lived in a small village approximately 30 minutes from the Romanian capital Bucharest. We were very warmly welcomed with hot beverages and baked treats prepared for us by the families. We spoke to the families about their experience of having a new home and they spoke of the volunteers they met. They were delighted when they heard we were from across the island of Ireland as they had experienced positive relationships with Habitat Ireland volunteers. The locals invited us into their homes and talked about their homes with incredible pride. One of the team asked one of the women ‘What is your favourite thing about your home?’. Her answer both surprised us and taught us a vital lesson;

‘I worked hard to own this home, I earned it’.

She then went on to explain the steps she had taken to individually earn the status of a home owner. Whilst she was very grateful for the opportunities provided to her by Habitat for Humanity, she had an incredible drive to constantly better herself. There was no mistaking, this home owning status wasn’t simply provided for her, only the opportunity was. Ultimately it was a goal set for her that she successfully strived to reach.

There is no doubt that seeking help is a strength, however seeking help will lose its power when we don’t choose to help ourselves. The team I was with that day was full of teenagers that had strong work ethic and an abundance of positive willpower. I hope they always remember what that amazing woman said to them as I know I most certainly will.

Prayer

Lord God, during this advent season we thank you for the tools you have given us to build ourselves and to build those around us. Through your grace, may we always strive to make the best versions of ourselves and always understand the strength we have when we build each other up. Your church is the people and may we always endeavour to make it better. We pray this in the name of Jesus.

Read more Advent reflections here