At 8 o’clock Monday morning, as most of metro Atlanta was still asleep (after all, it was only 2 a.m. back home), a small bus filled with Global Village volunteers bounced along the narrow roads winding their way through the Polish countryside.
Gone were the tall buildings, the cosmopolitan restaurants and, as we learned during a miserably hot Sunday night, the air-conditioned hotels of the big city. We were now in Redzynskie, a small village about 40 miles southeast of Warsaw.
For more than two years, volunteers from seven different countries have been building this home for Miroslaw and Agata Kawka and their six children, who range in age from 3 to 16. Until the home is completed, the family will continue to live in their one-room, 269-square-foot house with no real kitchen or bathroom.
It’s hard to believe, but a group of volunteers from Switzerland started building this home in April 2017.
Our group of Americans – there are folks here from Philadelphia, Chicago and Tampa Bay, just to name a few – was now here to finish the two-story block and stucco home.
The group’s first day, I’m told, is always the most chaotic – and Monday was no exception. There was scaffolding to set up. Safety instructions to be delivered. Language barriers to be bridged.
Somehow, the group made it work.
For most of the day, Stanislaw, a contractor with Habitat for Humanity Poland, helped guide me through the process of trimming out a door using pieces of Styrofoam and mortar – or “glue,” as he called it.
To say Stanislaw, a former EMT, is a patient man, is an understatement. “Not bad … not bad,” he would say, adjusting some of my work.
Others in our group laid brick pavers, stood atop scaffolding to replace missing pieces of insulation or installed drywall on the ceiling in an upstairs bathroom.
The work was tedious. The day was hot.
Slowly, though, we made progress on what will soon be become a finished two-bathroom, three-bedroom home for the Kawka family.
Before we knew it, it was time to call it a day.
As we boarded a bus back to our hotel, one of the Kawka’s young daughters, Veronika, 8, stood on the front lawn, waving goodbye.
It made the hard work – and the lack of sleep – all worth it.
Mark A. Waligore is the president of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity/DeKalb. This is his first Global Village trip, and he’ll be writing about his experiences all week long.