Before I get into the what (the actual work we did) and the why (the families of Chipenhe village) I wanted to spend a bit of time on the who.
I'm the first to admit that I'm not a "group" person. The idea of getting tossed together with a bunch of random strangers, spending all-day-every-day with these people, engaging in group-think and group-speak... it chafes my nonconformist streak and tends to make me want to run screaming from the room. More than anything else about this trip -- what will we eat? will there be running water? what to pack? -- this group-thing was the biggest unknown factor weighing on my brain.
And then this happened.
To say I was pleasantly surprised by our incredible team is the understatement of the year. To be fair, this group was mostly hand-picked by a superlative team leader Lisa, so I shouldn't have been so stunned at how well we all got along. And it takes a special group of people to volunteer their vacation time to fly halfway around the world and work on a project like this. But I've done a bit of casual research on the topic, and this level of bonding seems above-par even for Habitat trips. This was more than simple camaraderie-in-the-wilderness. By the end of the first day, we'd figured out each others' strengths & weaknesses, there was an almost palpable care and compassion for everyone's well-being, and we were joking and laughing together like lifelong friends. Corporate managers would KILL for a textbook high-performance team like this!
The one unfortunate circumstance of our worksite configuration was that the two houses we built were kinda far apart. On the first day we randomly separated into two teams of seven; our group stayed with Master Mason Pedro, and the other group went with Master Mason Lucas. The idea was that maybe we'd shuffle around and mix things up as the week went on. But it became clear by the end of Day 1 that not only were we each invested in building "our house" for Nosta, we all wanted to cross the finish line together, as Team Pedro.
And so, without further ado... Team Pedro:
A big man with a big heart, and one of the most effortlessly funny people I have ever met. The village ladies loooooooooooooved them some Big Poppa. And he's a foodie blogger to boot! I lurve this man.
So much grace in such a small package! One of the few non-Americans on the team, she's a Lebanese fashion designer and entrepreneur, and a gifted artist. She got the most amazing people-pics of the beautiful people of Chipengue. And you can already hear the wheels turning about how we're going to work in a trip to Beirut to visit her as soon as we can.
I have to fess up to completely misjudging this girl as a high-maintenance diva. Nothing could be further from the truth! She's hardworking, smart, and compassionate, and hilariously sassy-funny. Girl's got grit. I can still hear her Southern "heyyyyyyy!" echoing in my ears.
Definitely our peeps. I was so touched by their openness and honesty. These are genuinely good-to-the-core folks. On our last van ride from the work site back to the lodge, Inger bust out with this amazing heartfelt speech about how working with us had made her a better person, and my eyes still instantly well up just thinking about it. Sean's construction experience (and subsequent bromance with Pedro) helped the rest of us make the transition from bumbling computer jockeys to slightly-less-bumbling worker bees.
Our Habitat "handler" and translator, a bookkeeper in Maputo by day. I have never seen a bookkeeper with cooler hair, and probably never will. She worked harder than the rest of us combined, and pushed us to do our absolute best every day. Most importantly, she taught us all how to properly execute the Mozambican version of "oh no you di'int!" aka "na-na-ni-na-NAO!"
Apologies to the rest of our awesomesauce team, I don't mean to shortshrift ya. George did a much more egalitarian job of describing everyone in his last post. Rounding out the magnificence, we have...
I miss you all! When can we have a reunion??? I'll bring a case of real-sugar Coke!
PS. Of course Mark was a part of this team, too. Hopefully y'all know how I feel about him by now. :) There will be plenty more pics of him working and interacting with the kids, in future posts to come!
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