Project Children in Partnership with Habitat for Humanity

Project Children has now built with the aid of interns over 30 houses as well as a homeless shelter in Helena. Project Children and Habitat for Humanity’s partnership has grown over the years and currently focuses on and reaches out to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Habitat for Humanity 2013

Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Their mission is to rebuild Tuscaloosa by partnering with volunteers, donors, sponsors, and families to provide housing solutions and ongoing community development. They do this by building attractive, affordable, sustainable new homes for hardworking families, rehabbing and repairing existing homes in critical need, and serving as a catalyst for a wide range of community strategies that will transform lives and neighborhoods. 

 

Follow the progress of the relief work on the Habitat website:

 

 


http://www.habitattuscaloosa.org/ 

__________________________________________________________

 

A Letter From The Chairman

Project Children Chairman Denis Mulcahy reflects on his experience with the interns in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
 
"Project Children has helped to lay the foundation for peace in Northern Ireland and we hope that this foundation is instilled in the next generation, as they become the new leaders. The youth of today will be the leaders for tomorrow.  There have been so many wonderful people who have participated in the Habitat program, and this year was no exception.  The young adults worked together to achieve a common goal, and built friendships along with the house.
  

For me as Chairman of Project Children, it was a great experience to have the opportunity to work with this incredible group of interns. The project was a huge success thanks to the hard work from all who took part.  Our coordinators in Northern Ireland, Monica Culbert, Sally Brennan, and Maire Therese Martin, who screen all the applicants, and choose the interns, did an exceptional job, preparing the interns prior to their trip.  The partnership between Project Children and Habitat for Humanity is a natural one. Both organizations know the value of finding common ground, working together and making good things happen.

 

I would like to thank Bob Johnson and Habitat International for organizing our trip to Tuscaloosa.  Also, the Director, Jared Patterson, and Site Supervisor, Peter Salemme have been very supportive and helpful to us. They secured room and board at the Y’Acres Camp and we had an opportunity to work on a house for a retired Army veteran.  Mr. Bishop is a retired veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  Home Depot donated $15,000 toward the supplies needed to refurbish his house, and the interns provided the manpower.  The interns had the opportunity to meet him, and he was so grateful to have his home restored.  
 
Special thanks again this year to the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity of the University of Alabama for the welcoming party.  They also made available to the interns the use of the water park to cool off and relax when the work was done. We would like to thank IBEW Local 136’s Business Manager, Jerry Keenum, along with his assistant, James “Pee Wee” Reece for the Southern home cooked meal of pulled pork and all the fixings, tee shirts for the interns, and giving us a tour of the area. Our supervisors, Sam Gormley, Brendan and Kyle Morgan, Pat Costello, Al DeBenedictis, Eugene McGillycuddy, Eileen Fox and Pat and Gwen Kelly. Gwen Kelly organized wonderful meals to keep the crew well fed.  
 
I would like to thank Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Lord Mayor of Belfast, for hosting the interns on their return to a reception in Belfast City Hall.  He also recognized Pat and Gwen Kelly, our Texas coordinators, for their work with Project Children and Habitat for Humanity.  We appreciate the recognition for all these young adults for their charitable work and service to others.
 
I would also like to thank our donors and supporters who raise money for Project Children to fund the intern program, especially Joe Walsh and his family who run our annual golf tournament.  Also, thanks to all our coordinators and volunteers, as well as our host families, without which none of this would be possible."

__________________________________________________________

 

Project Children Interns Give Back to War Veteran

Niamh O'Neill a student at the University of Ulster Studying Communications with Public Relations, Interned at The Waterstone Inn, Greenwood Lake, New York.

 


"Looking back on the Habitat week I have learnt so much that I couldn’t begin to write it all down on paper! Taking part in Habitat for Humanity in Tuscoloosa, Alabama was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I learnt so many new skills and made new friends who I know I will stay in touch with for years to come. It was hard work and was very challenging at times but with the help of the others and the coordinators we all powered through and handing over the house to the owner at the end was such a rewarding experience.

 

The house we worked on belonged to a man called Willy Bishop who served in WW2 and the Korean War for three years. He had originally built the house in 1948 with his brothers and was one of ten children. Mr Bishop was a lifelong resident of Tuscaloosa and had resided in his home on 18th Avenue East since 1948. Mr. Bishop is 84 years old and served as the deacon of his church for over 20 years. After honorable discharge from the Army, Mr. Bishop worked at Rick’s Hardware in Alberta City for 25 years. Mr. Bishop lives alone, has no children and has never been married.  Habitat for Humanity graciously agreed to spearhead the construction aspect of the project and he was granted 15,000 dollars from Home Depot and furniture was donated by ‘High Socks for Hope”. As he just turned 85 years old on June 20th so a new house for him was the perfect birthday present we could give him!"

__________________________________________________________

 

Surreal Memories, Great Photos and Fantastic New Friends

Ciara Maguire a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Accounting, Interned at the Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York.
 

"After travelling over 4000 miles, 20 unsuspecting young Irish people landed in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 23rd, 2013, a hot and humid day - weather very unlike that which we were used to. We then piled into 2 mini buses and went on our way to Tuscaloosa. During our time there, we stayed in an isolated camp provided by Habitat for Humanity for its volunteer groups which was made up of a boys dorm, a girls dorm, outdoor toilets (a journey the girls refused to make alone after dark) and a dining hall, not quite the Hilton but after a hard days work, we didn’t care. From June 24th to 28th, I worked with 6 of the other Project Children Interns on an 85 year old war veterans house, Willie Bishop, whose home was destroyed by the tornado that hit the area 2 years prior, in 2011. Our days started on site at 7-8am and we worked for 8 hours each day, completing the work other volunteers started on Willie’s house. I got to take part in landscaping, painting, affixing door handles and putting up shelves which most importantly meant getting to use an electric drill, a daunting yet exciting venture!


Although it wasn’t all work and no play; we were provided with plenty of opportunities to enjoy ourselves after each days work. We went swimming in a beautiful lake, to a traditional Alabama cookout hosted by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and for dinner in a local restaurant. We even got to visit the football stadium and a fraternity house at the University of Alabama, an experience which really highlighted how lucky we are with our comparably minute student houses in the Holylands! Even with the heat, and the exhaustion, and the bugs the size of small helicopters, the week in Tuscaloosa was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding I have ever had. Seeing Willie Bishop move into his newly repaired home on our final day was the cherry on top of all the other surreal memories, great photos and fantastic new friends that Habitat for Humanity has provided myself and the other Project Children Interns with."


__________________________________________________________

 

A Very Rewarding Experience

Jenny Bridges a student at Newcastle University Studying Business Accounting & Finance, Interned at the The Irish Echo, Manhattan, New York.

"During our first week in the United States we volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama whose mission is to build decent, affordable housing for peoples' homes that were affected by the devastating tornadoes of 2012. Some of the other interns worked on houses that were being re-built for this purpose while seven of us worked on a house for a man called Willie Bishop who had served in World War 2 and the Korean War. Mr. Bishop had build the house at the age of 20 alongside his brothers and had lived in it ever since but his family had reported the 85-year-old's house as now being unfit to live in. After appropriate inspection performed by the town council work by Habitat for Humanity started with the help of a veteran grant from home depot of $15,000 and numerous other donations to furnish the house. As we volunteered during the final week working on this house I was involved with tiling the kitchen floor, gardening and finishing off the porch which was tough in the humidity but it was great to be able to see Mr. Bishop move into the house before we left. During the evenings we did a tour of the University of Alabama football stadium, barbecues in a fraternity house and swimming in the nearby lake. Volunteering in Alabama was a very rewarding experience, a great way to get to know everyone and the perfect way to start our summer internships in America."




__________________________________________________________

 

 

Something I Will Never Forget

Conor Fitzpatrick a student at the University of Ulster Studying Business Studies, Interned at Group Dynamix, Dallas, Texas.


"Prior to starting our internships the vast majority of us Project Children interns spent a week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where we participated in the Habitat for Humanity program. At the beginning of the week we were split up into smaller teams and allocated a specific site to work on. My group were fortunate enough to work on Mr. Bishop’s house, an 85 year old US war veteran who lost his home to a devastating tornado. The interns worked alongside the Habitat for Humanity staff in completing various aspects of Mr. Bishops new home. Some of the tasks we worked on included tiling the floors, painting, roofing, putting siding on the house and putting up supports in the basement (among others). We completed the work on the house by the end of the week and we got to witness Mr. Bishop settle into his new home. It was a very rewarding experience for myself and all the interns involved. It is something I will never forget and I would like to thank Project Children and all of its staff for making the experience possible."

__________________________________________________________

 

Rewarding & Challenging Experience

Sarah O'Hagan a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Accounting, Interned at the Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York

"Working in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for Habitat for Humanity was both rewarding and challenging and is an experience I will never forget! I had the opportunity to work on two partially completed houses- helping out with painting, cleaning and landscaping etc. While the work was difficult and the heat was intense, meeting the families we were building the houses for, made us realise how worthwhile and important Habitat for Humanity is! The programme involved working as a team and as a result, allowed us to bond really quickly as a group and by the of the week many close friendships were formed. We were also working on the houses with volunteers from various communities which meant we were constantly meeting new people and every day was different. 

Outside of work, we had activities planned for every night. On the first night we went to a BBQ at a fraternity house of the University of Alabama and later in the week,  the electricians union hosted an American cookout for the whole project children group, so we had the opportunity to taste American cuisine. Additionally, we got to go to swimming in a beautiful lake and the University of Alabamas' swimming pool. We also got a tour of their amazing football stadium-which is unlike anything I've ever seen before! Overall, habitat for humanity was a truly unforgettable and brilliant week, and was an experience I am so grateful for."

__________________________________________________________

 

Invaluable Opportunity

Fionnuala Doherty a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Psychology, Interned at Employment Horizons, Morris County, New Jersey.

"I don’t even know where to begin in trying to describe a truly unforgettable week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with habitat for humanity. It was an absolutely fantastic opportunity and one which I will never forget. I had no idea what to expect when I was told I would be building houses. My friends and family were all laughing at the idea of myself combined with manual labor and there is no doubt that it was a tough week. Working in 100 degrees with pasty Irish skin was a task on its own. We did proper on site tasks ranging from nailing and raking to painting and cleaning for finishing touches. Even though we did plenty of complaining there is no doubt that everyone involved had an amazing experience. 

We all became so close so quickly and I feel as though I have definitely made friends for life. Everyone kept the craic going on site which made the hard work so much easier. Every evening project children coordinators failed to disappoint us. We were entertained with so many different activities such as swimming in the National Lake and a trip to an amazing local fraternity house where local students from the University of Alabama hosted a barbeque for us. I am so grateful for such a life changing experience which gave me an invaluable opportunity to play a part in repairing the devastation created by the hurricane in Tuscaloosa. I now appreciate all that I have and feel as though I have gained valuable life skills and qualities which will certainly stand to me in the future."

__________________________________________________________


 Unbelievable How Much We Accomplished in One Week

Shannon McLorie a student at Northumbria University Studying Law, Interned at the Morris Co. Prosecutor's Office, New Jersey.


"When I first arrived in Alabama, I was placed on a site that was a nearly finished project, therefore we got the wonderful opportunity to complete the house and hand it over to its owner, who could not have been more grateful for our help. I now know that nothing can beat that feeling that we experienced when we were able to change someone’s life for the better. I know that I speak for each and every one of us when I say none of us have experienced or witnessed this type of natural disaster; it only begins to give understanding when you see it first hand and talk to the people involved, sharing their devastating experiences and being unbelievably grateful for our help


The work was a lot more difficult than I ever expected with the early starts and unbearable heat, but I know it was worth it and very rewarding. I assumed that I would be in bed by eight every night due to exhaustion, but I was surprised at how well each of us coped. I believe that it was due to the friendships established. Every night we would do something different together, on arrival we went to a fraternity house, where the Kappa Alpha group hosted a BBQ, it was really a surreal opportunity; one of which I think made all the interns wish that they could go to an American University with the Greek System. Alabama created lifelong friendships not only for myself, but also for each of us. As each day went by, the group would be become closer together. I could not advise anyone enough about going to habitat for humanity for a week


Without a doubt Tuscaloosa was one of the best experiences of my life so far. It was truly unbelievable when I think back at how much all of us have accomplished in one week. I know from the experience the class of 2013, we would have all gladly stayed longer and will not forget the amazing experience that we all shared."

__________________________________________________________


 Hard Work, Determination and Community Spirit

Enda McKenna a student at Queen’s University Belfast Studying Business Information Technology, Interned at Calorique LLC, Massachusetts.

 

"Alabama – a conservative southern American state. I was somewhat apprehensive about what was to be expected on arrival as we had no electronic devices or connection with the rest of the world, which we now look upon as basic human needs. I often felt lost without my mobile phone and laptop. This was quickly put into perspective when we visited the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. I couldn’t help but feel emotional immediately upon arrival there. After hearing the exact events of what happened, and the detrimental impact it has had on the entire community, we quickly got to work, grabbing hammers, paint brushes and rakes in the intense 40 degree heat. It wasn’t all hard work. We found time to dance to the country music blasting throughout the house, have a water fight, cover each other in paint and share jokes. 

The Habitat experience brought the group together. We bonded over the good we were doing for the community. We had the pleasure and emotional satisfaction of meeting the families that would eventually move in to these houses we were building. They were so grateful for us being there and volunteering, they couldn’t express their gratitude enough. Although it was a challenging week, the emotional satisfaction far outweighed all of the hard work. On the last day we stood back and took a look at how far we had come, how much the house had changed and how the new family could now move in. This was an amazing experience, and has taught me a very valuable life lesson, which is to be extremely grateful for what I have in my life and that with hard work, determination and a community spirit, that there is always light at the end of even the longest of tunnels."

__________________________________________________________


 I Learnt A Lot About Myself As A Person

Shawn Morrow a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Computing and IT, Interned at the Kennedy Computer Consulting, New York.


"Habitat for humanity was a fantastic experience. When I first heard about it on the website, I immediately got excited about the opportunity and the experience most definitely exceeded my expectations. It was such a great feeling to be helping those that required help and knowing that they appreciated it. On the first day on site working, I expected the work to be tough as they all warned me. On the Monday all had to be on the site for 8am. The challenge of getting up early was interesting. But with a cup of coffee in the morning, I was all set to go! 


The work around the house was great in that I got to see the developments of the house and see the final product by the end of the week. I really enjoyed working alongside the other students and have built new friendships courtesy to Habitat. I feel I learnt a lot more about myself as a person throughout the week. Every day was a new experience working on different areas of the house. It develops my team working skills as I was cooperating with others to get jobs done. The activities in the evening time were always anticipated and never disappointed. For example seeing the Alabama American football stadium was brilliant. I would do anything to get back there!"


__________________________________________________________


 A Wonderful Yet Humbling Experience

Owen Williamson a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Law with Politics, Interned at the Nassau County Police Department, New York.

"Spending a week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama helping to rebuild homes for those who had lost theirs two years prior was a wonderful yet humbling experience. The work itself was varied; from insulating the interior of the house to boarding the exterior, and from painting and cleaning to laying turf, while the early starts and long work days in unrelenting heat made the work very difficult. However, it was all worthwhile given the delight of the homeowner’s at the end result.


The evenings enabled the group to spend time with one another relaxing after a hard day’s work. Various activities were organised including a visit to a fraternity house, swimming in a lake, and a visit to the 100,000 seater football stadium at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). For an outsider it’s amazing how seriously football is taken in Alabama as it’s not just a game for them, it’s a way of life. I along with the other law students were also given the opportunity to tour the local courthouse and meet a judge which offered a unique chance to question him on legal issues.


The week spent in Alabama with Habitat, and the friendships that were quickly forged as a result, will be one that I will never forget."

__________________________________________________________

 

Southern Hospitality & Gratitude

Maoiliosa Scott a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying English with Creative Writing, Interned at the Irish Examiner Newspaper, New York, New York.

"Accustomed to dropping everything and rushing to the beach when the weather hits 70 degrees in Ireland, a week of hard labour in the scorching 90 degree heat of Alabama came as something of a shock. There were many applications of sunscreen and bottles of water drank, but we worked on, determined to have finished two houses by the end of the week. Painting or hammering, cleaning or digging – there was plenty for everyone to get on with. But it wasn’t all toiling in the blazing sun; the evenings offered a chance to relax and enjoy a taste of life in Alabama. We were given a tour of the University of Alabama’s colossal stadium, and entry passes to cool down in their pool. 

We got know some of the local people - the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers treated us to a BBQ, as did the Kappa-Alpha fraternity in their lavish fraternity mansion. Commendable displays of Southern hospitality, but what really stood out was the immense gratitude shown by everyone we met. These are people still struggling to recover from the 2011 tornado largely forgotten about by the rest of the world, and their appreciation of our choosing to help their community was genuinely moving. At times, the week felt like a test of our endurance – we were hungry, we were exhausted, it was far too warm, and “how much more do we have to do?” But craic was had, and friendships were formed; nothing to bond a group like intense work in difficult conditions. Most of all though, lives were changed – the lives of those who now have a place to call home, and our own lives too, after what was a truly unforgettable experience."

__________________________________________________________


 As If We'd Known Each Other All Our Lives

Oisin Hassan a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Law with Politics, Interned at Archer, Byington, Glennon and Levine LLP, Long Island, New York. 


"Habitat for Humanity was a tough experience with hard work and searing temperatures! But the difference that we made while we were there made it the most rewarding week of my life. To see the devastation left by the tornado, and the difficult task of recovering from it for those who lost everything, was really eye-opening. On the first day myself, Owen, Alec and Gareth were taken to two houses which had already been completed but drainage work had to be done in the crawl space, under the decking and in the yard. I’ll never forget the two elderly ladies who had moved into the neighbouring houses. They had been childhood friends and the tornado had actually brought them together again as neighbours. One lady told how she was excited that her garden was finally going to be complete for her grandchildren to play in, and the thanks we received from them both was really humbling.


As a group we arrived in Tuscaloosa, having only just met hours before, but by the time we left for our internships a week later it was as if we’d known each other all our lives."


__________________________________________________________


 Working Together

Gareth Gilmour a student at South West College Studying Creative Media Production, Interned at Galaxy Communications Radio Station

"Project Children has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me as I have experienced what America has to offer and also made some new friends in the process.    For the first week of our experience we were all taken down to Alabama to work on the Habitat for Humanity Project.  This is were we all seen first hand the destructive power of a tornado, as entire rows of houses were blown away leaving just the bare foundations.

It was a lot of fun working and getting to know all the different students and also the volunteers/habitat for humanity that have been working on these projects as well.  I think working together on a project like this made it easier to get to know one another.  One of my favorite experiences was going to see the college football stadium and having a guided tour of the place.  My time doing Habitat for Humanity was enjoyable (but very hot) and I would like to return in the future for a holiday. 

All in all I have had a great experience and have made some great friends along the way. If you get the chance to be selected for this project I would definitely put my name down, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends in America."


__________________________________________________________


 Principles of Community And Camaraderie

Eoin Murphy a student at University College Cork Studying Architecture, Interned at BHC Architects, Manhattan, New York.

 

"Our group experience in Alabama was one deeply rooted in the principles of community and camaraderie. Where better to experience such a strong sense of togetherness than the deep south? Our arrival in Tuscaloosa was a testament to the warmth that the southern people are known for. We were welcomed with open arms at the Kappa Alpha fraternity house that evening, where we were treated to a barbecue. The following morning we were given a briefing on the Habitat for Humanity project, and on the lives devastated by the tornadoes in 2011. We then broke off into groups and were sent to our respective projects.


Habitat was truly a humbling experience, not only for the work itself, but for the people with whom we were working. Mr. Willie Bishop built his home with his brothers in 1949, after previously serving in WWII. He then went on to fight in the Korean War, and return home to this same house. To be able to work on a house for someone so well-respected for his patriotism is an experience I will never forget. The house was stripped and rebuilt over the course of 3 weeks, with our group being there for the final week. There was still plenty to be done; roofing, tiling, painting, the list goes on. To be there when he had moved in on Friday was a proud moment to say the least.


I can’t say enough good things about our week down in Alabama, I feel blessed to have been working with such a great group, both leaders and fellow interns made the scorching sun more bearable. I honestly never would have thought I would have been happy to work on a hot tin roof in 90° weather, but maybe it’s a testament to the people I’ve worked with to say that I couldn’t have been happier."


__________________________________________________________


 Making A Real Impact 

Colum Mackey a student at the University of Ulster Studying Law, Interned at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana, LLP, Long Island, New York.

"I’d be lying if I said I had any skills in building houses so I really didn’t know what to expect the morning of the 24th June. When we arrived we were introduced to the “professionals” and were told we would be working between three houses in the week ahead. We were exposed to a variety of tasks from paneling, insulating, painting and raking. Despite the heat the thought of the evening activity and a hot meal from Guen kept us going. 

Throughout the week we visited the local area, one of the University of Alabama’s swimming pools, the nearby William Bacon Oliver lake and we were taken on a tour of the american football Bryant–Denny Stadium. We were hosted by the Electrician and Plumbers Union and by the Kappa Alpha fraternity at their university house! On the Wednesday all those studying law got to visit the the Tuscalossa court for a tour of the facility and to meet with US District Judge Scott Coogler.  

The experience was a real insight into the on the ground effects of a natural disaster and it was extremely rewarding to know that our work made a real impact on the lives of the people affected. The week we spent with habitat was amazing and for me one of the highlights of the trip so far!"

__________________________________________________________

 

One Of The Best Weeks Of My Life

Cliodhna Nicbhranair a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Irish and History, Interned at the Aisling Center, Bronx, New York

 

"My week working for Habitat for Humanity was, without a doubt, one of the best weeks of my life. We were helping to rebuild houses for people who had lost everything in the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa in 2011. We worked on several houses doing everything from painting walls and doorframes, to laying gardens, to putting up the walls of the house. It was hard work, particularly given the heat and humidity that we, coming from Ireland, were not used to at all! In spite of this, everyone worked hard and, after hearing from some of the families what they had lost in the tornado, it was an amazing feeling to be able to say that we had helped them begin to reestablish their homes.

 

We worked from 7am through ‘til midafternoon and then we had the evenings to ourselves. We were never bored, however, as the Project Children coordinators had something organized for us every evening. Over the course of the week we had the privilege of having the traditional Southern meal of ‘pulled pork’ made and served up for us by the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), of visiting the Kappa Alpha fraternity house on the campus of the University of Alabama and of meeting several of the members and of touring the amazing Bryant-Denny football stadium at the same university. When we first arrived in Alabama to begin our work with Habitat for Humanity I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. But we worked hard despite the hot weather conditions and by the end of the week, all thanks to those at Project Children and Habitat for Humanity, Tuscaloosa, we had not only helped at least three different families rebuild their homes, and hopefully their lives, we had become friends.

 

Roll Tide!!"

__________________________________________________________

 

    The Work Was Hard And The Heat Was Tough

Kurtis McGreevy a student at the University of Ulster Studying Politics, Interned at Interned at the Office of Peter King, Congressman, New York.
 

"After a long transatlantic flight, the welcoming smell of a BBQ and a good night’s sleep was in dire need. It was good to relax a bit in New York and get to know the people whom we would become so close with during the next weeks laboring. Everyone was a little skeptical about the work, how tough would it be? How involved will we be? What if we make mistakes? All nerves were calmed as soon as we arrived at the stereotypical summer camp in Alabama that would be home for the next week, complete with out-door toilet and showers. I worked on the larger site for the majority of the week except the one day when I jumped on the “wrong bus” which led to an afternoon of “buttering” tiles for Sam to lay them. Alabama was a fantastic place and doing honest work for needy people added to my already massive liking of the place.

 

The work was hard and the heat was tough to deal with and I don’t think the bugs enjoyed anyone more than me. But the site was a good place, working with habitat people like Stephen, Joe and Lyon and some guys from a Christian work group who had also volunteered for the summer. There was never a dull moment and conversation never ceased from making fun of accents, to differences in climate, to laughing at people botched work (soon to be corrected) or the favorite topic, “what was good to eat back in Ireland?” The visits to the nearby lake, Fraternity house and Tuscaloosa town were great insights into how great a place it is, but personally the highlight for me being a huge sports fan, was visiting the University of Alabama football stadium, dwarfing the largest stadium in Ireland by 20,000 seats. To conclude working in habitat was tough and hard to deal with at times but honestly it was the highlight of my time in America, and the fact that we were helping people who had been devastated by dangerous weather added a sense of feel good to the trip, their gratitude to us was something not hidden, both from people in the public and people whose homes were being rebuilt. Definitely something I would consider re-doing."

__________________________________________________________

   

Sweat, Pulled Pork and "Roll Tide!"

Caitriona Forde a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Law, Interned at the Morris Co. Prosecutor's Office, New Jersey

 

"To sum up my week’s experience in Tuscaloosa, Alabama would be: sweat, pulled pork, and ‘Roll Tide!’ It was such an invigorating and fulfilling experience; I loved every minute of it! As part of Habitat for Humanity we worked on two homes that were at different stages of completion and the work ranged from roofing and plumbing to painting and tiling. Working in the stifling Alabama heat from seven in the morning to four or five in the afternoon was sometimes challenging, but working alongside the other interns and the coordinators of the Habitat for Humanity project, Sam, Peter and Brendan, the church group members, and Jonathon, the sweetest ‘Southern gentleman’ we had ever met, the camaraderie and occasional refreshments of ‘snow cones’ and ‘real Alabama’ watermelon, made the work a very enjoyable experience. Meeting Mr. Willie Bishop, the man whose home we helped to restore after the damage caused by the tornado, also made the work very rewarding. We also got the opportunity to visit the fifth largest football stadium in the States, the federal courthouse, indulge in and explore the fraternity lifestyle, and to relax in the beautiful and tranquil Holt Lake. I will never forget my time in Alabama and feel so lucky to be part of it. "

__________________________________________________________

 

Habitat for Humanity Widened Our Horizons

Alex Stafford a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying International Politics and Conflict, Interned at Michael Stapleton Associates, Manhattan, New York

 

 

"I started my internship with habitat for humanity with a long car journey to the sparsely populated town of Tuscaloosa in the southern state of Alabama. This car journey was the beginning of a great adventure that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. When we first arrived at the old Scouts camp, we were welcomed by all the staff that we would be working with and to weather so hot it felt like purgatory. We quickly became acclimatised and slipped into a great routine of getting up early, working hard and building homes for those without. Each one of us was helped by the patient staff and given jobs that suited our capabilities. By the end of the week, we had gained new trade skills which allowed us to create homes for those without from our bare hands. The week flew by too quickly as everyone bonded as if we had known one another for years. We all helped each other working as a team, and there was times where we laughed like we were kids again. Habitat for humanity was the best bonding experience and most charitable thing I have been lucky enough to take part in. It taught us a lot about ourselves and the responsibility we have to society. We met new people, gained new insights and widened our horizons. But most valuable of all, we made a life-long difference to people we who needed it most. I have taken a lot from my week at habitat including new friends and sense of empathetic duty to others. We would all go back tomorrow given half a chance."

__________________________________________________________

 

Once In A Lifetime Experience

Rebekah Morris a student at Queen's University Belfast Studying Computing and IT, Interned at Calorique LLC, Massachusetts.

 

"Being part of Habitat for Humanity in Tuscaloosa Alabama was definitely the most amazing and adventurous experience we had all ever had and I feel privileged to have had this opportunity! Setting off I think it’s safe to say that no one really knew each other or quite what to expect but you soon got used to the early starts, the hot weather and the work, and with everyone being in the same boat, we all soon became really close. The first couple of days were by far the hardest, but as the week went on you really did start to get used to the heat and humidity and just really enjoy the experience. The work definitely wasn’t easy, especially in the conditions but it was definitely worth it in the end to see the houses in a completely different stage to what we arrived to.

 

After a long day on site, it was always good to see what the plans were for the evening and there was always something different planned for us. For me, the highlights were definitely the fraternity party bbq that we were invited to at Alabama University on our first night there as it was just amazing to see all the fraternity houses and how different a life of an American college student is compared to ours. Another highlight was the visit to the lake, just getting into the lake just felt so good after a long hot day on the site, and getting a tour of the Alabama football stadium was definitely an experience.


This was definitely a once in a life time experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget for the rest of my life and just want to thank Project Children for letting me be a part of it!"

___________________________________________________________________________________