Habitat for Humanity
On Saturday 8 May 2004  twelve people from St John's, including our Rector, were up early to be in Ballysillan to do our bit in helping with the construction of two homes for Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland. We were joined by others from Lilburn Road Methodist Church and a visitor from New York. Although my arm had been skillfully twisted by Dick Thornton to participate, I knew very little about what Habitat for Humanity involved, or indeed what kind of contribution I could make.
On arrival the full-time Habitat professionals, Rab and Danny briefed us about the cross-community programme designed to provide affordable housing for low-income families. A condition for ownership is an agreement with Habitat that owners themselves will spend about 300 hours building their own home. I, for one, was impressed by the flexibility of the design, which means that the home can be easily adapted internally with what appears to be minimal effort in order to meet a family's changing needs. When it came to getting down to work we were given the option of working on the roof, which eight of the volunteers bravely opted to do. Luckily the weather was kind to us. The rest of us worked on laying insulation materials on the ground floors. In all our efforts we were expertly and good-humouredly guided by Rab and Danny whose professionalism and enthusiasm for the project were inspiring. Danny made a comment I thought worth mentioning - that the women are better than the men!

When I look back on the day I am struck by how enjoyable and satisfying it all was. It was heartening to see that our efforts had brought the building of the homes a step nearer completion. I am only sorry that we didn't meet the families who will eventually live in the homes - maybe next time? 1 would wholeheartedly recommend a day's volunteering with Habitat for Humanity as a worthwhile form of recreation.