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AndrewServes hosted week of activities for Habitat for Humanity awareness

December 19, 2016
The AndrewServes Servant Leadership Program of Andrew College kicked off a week of awareness activities for Habitat for Humanity on Nov. 14. The first project was a campus-wide scavenger hunt which led students to discover and share information about the Habitat for Humanity organization. 

Later that day, the AndrewServes freshman class traveled to Americus, Ga. to tour Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and Discovery Center. There, students were able to gain a better understanding of the work that Habitat does in other countries as they explored the many different styles of homes that are built. 

Andrew student, Aish Palekar, of Lawrenceville said, “It was amazing to see the different structures that Habitat customizes for each country. They really take into consideration the culture and needs of each community to bring simple, decent homes to those in need.” 

The rest of the week was spent in preparation for one of AndrewServes’ biggest on-campus projects. ShantyTown was held on Nov. 17. For this event, students were challenged to construct cardboard box houses in which they stayed overnight. After an 8 p.m. arrival, students were not allowed to leave until 8 a.m. the next day and were only allowed to use the supplies they brought with them. 

During the evening, Jennifer Harris, manager of the Global Village and Discovery Center, spoke to students about Habitat’s work and her role in the Global Village. She encouraged students to think of the simple structure occupants and reminded students that usually these simple homes are occupied by many people, not just a single person. She asked students to imagine having their parents, grandparents, siblings, and their entire family in similar circumstances and challenged students to make a difference by volunteering to help bring an end to homelessness and poverty housing. 

More than 30 students completed their stay in the cardboard ShantyTown. They were able to gain a better understanding of poverty living as temperatures dipped to 42 degrees. Director of AndrewServes, Malanie Burnett, said, “I’ve done this project for several years and you never get used to it. This year was especially difficult as we weren’t able to have a fire, but facing the cold is always worth it when you get to hear the discussions from students as the sun rises the next morning. Every year I hear students discussing how they can’t imagine sleeping in these conditions every night and then being expected to live a productive life. They have a better understanding as to why it’s not so easy to start the day on a positive note, much less get out and accomplish something, when you’re running on very little sleep and you can’t feel your toes.”

AndrewServes wrapped up the week by participating in a Habitat build with the Flint River affiliate in Albany. The Flint River affiliate is completing rehabilitation on several homes and AndrewServes scholars were able to go in and help remove a wheelchair ramp, pressure wash, trim bushes, rake and bag leaves, and clean up the yard of one of these homes. 

Aish Palekar said, “Learning that over 1 billion people live in poverty worldwide has made this week such a humbling experience. I’m looking forward to being able to help on our mission trip to Louisiana in the spring!”

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