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Habitat Says 'Aloha' To Hard Work

While many of us were on Spring Break lounging on the beach, hiking trails or just plain relaxing and taking it easy, members of the Berea College chapter of Habitat for Humanity used their week off to travel to Hawaii to build houses on the island of Kaua’i.

The Habitat students took time off for a ride on the Blue Dolphin.

The road to Hawaii was not an easy one for the fourteen Bereans who participated in the trip. In order to qualify for the trip, students had to volunteer every Saturday with the Madison County Habitat group, in addition to meeting all of their class and labor requirements. After each Saturday session, the work continued as students did odd jobs for members of the community and for college faculty and staff to raise money for the trip. Student volunteers were also required to work during breaks in the academic year to help pay for their plane tickets to Kaua’i.

Once in Kaua'i, many students found themselves in a familiar setting among mountains that rivaled the Appalachians in a rural community in which many of the people work more than one job to afford their small homes. The Habitat students stayed at the Kahili Mountain Park Cabins, an isolated spot nestled in the Kahili Mountains. "The group as a whole loved the experience and could not get enough of the local culture that we were introduced to through working with the homeowners themselves, the local staff and others that loved what we were doing for their island," says Oliver Bugariski, Berea's Habitat coordinator. "We loved every minute of our stay."

Berea's Habitat group was extremely busy. The students' accomplishments include framing one entire house along with half of another, painting an entire house, creating and framing the porch on a third house, working in the Habitat thrift store and restoring and cleaning up the Habitat warehouse.

Even after all that work, students still had time to do a bit of sightseeing as well as bonding with the locals. Bugariski reflects upon one of the most significant events during the group's trip: "The most memorable moment was when the locals found out that all of us were coming from low-income and underprivileged communities and especially how hard we worked to fundraise to be able to travel all the way over to Kaua’i just to help them in building their houses and their community. They were crying while expressing their deep appreciation of what we did. Some of them were so touched that the only way they could express their feelings was in their native Hawaiian language. The volunteers not only touched the locals’ hearts, but I believe that the volunteers’ hearts are changed as well. They could see the difference they were making while immersed in the Hawaiian pacific-islander culture."

For more information on Berea College's Habitat for Humanity, please follow the link below.

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