Team Kiwi 2012

A Team Member's experience


I had the pleasure of joining the Habitat Team in Ethiopia as part of Team Kiwi in both 2009 and 2010, after reading about the opportunity in an article in a builders trade magazine.  I so enjoyed the experience, and so loved the people, the work and the country, that in 2012 I went back as Team Leader with a group of 10 other Kiwis from all across NZ.   One of the great things about this work, is that a volunteer absolutely doesn't need to be a builder to make a real difference and contribute fully to the work that the team does!  For the 2012 trip, which was to the town of Debre Berhan in central Ethiopia, the team had a couple of builders in the team, but also included physio and occupational therapists, canoe makers, students and lawyers!  The thing that everyone had in common, was a willingness to give things a go – something that I think Kiwi's really excel in – working alongside local people to build simple but safe and strong housing for their communities.  


The houses are small by NZ standards – mostly just 2 rooms  – with rock foundations, split timber framing which is plastered with a mix of mud and straw, and a tin roof.  The team carried rocks, stood up framing, and got stuck in mixing up the mud/straw mix (called Chikka) with their feet.  Everyone can contribute.


Each time I have been we have stayed in a local hotel / boarding house, eating a range of both Ethiopian and western foods, making friends with local people, and looking around the country – yes there is time for some rest and recreation too.  The history of the country is fascinating, and the scenery is like nothing I had ever seen before, and not what I expected Ethiopia to be like.  Lush and green in the temperate spring months when we visited, with high mountain peaks, limestone formations, and deep valleys all adding to the experience.  


I can't recommend the experience highly enough – I went to give some of my time and skill,  and in return I received warm welcomes, genuine care, and a love for a country that will always stay with me.


Steve Calley


Team Kiwi 2012