A Journal Entry from an Intern

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Saroj Chettri joined Habitat Montco in August after learning about the Montgomery County affiliate from his landlord in Norristown. The new Family Service intern is, however, no stranger to the vision of the organization. Before moving to the United States, Saroj worked with World Vision Nepal. Through it's partnership with Habitat for Humanity Nepal, Saroj had the opportunity to support the construction of over 40 homes built in his home country.

While Family Services may be a bit of a shift from his initial involvement with Habitat construction, ten years of experience in the development sector have prepared Saroj well for his new role. At Habitat Montco, Saroj works closely with the program director to administer both the Neighborhood Revitalization and Critical Home Repair Programs. 

Last week, Saroj was kind enough to open up to Montco staff members by sharing a moving recount of his experiences working in Family Services. At his request, we share his journal entry with our Habitat community:

By Saroj Chettri, Family Services Intern

 

I completed one month in Habitat for Humanity this week. I am enjoying working with the organization. The team has been very good, encouraging and supportive. People around me really care about me and are always ready to help whenever required.  God has been very good in providing a good team and supervisor wherever I go. My experience with World Vision as a development practitioner is an added advantage for me to provide my input whenever necessary. However, I have left some of my approach behind that is not suitable in this context and am trying to learn how I can be most effective.

Habitat has provided me with many opportunities that are helping me to grow by giving me more responsibility and allowing me to attend meetings outside of my work. At present, I am given the responsibilities of Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator. One of my jobs is to help families file financial documents to qualify for the Critical Home Repair Program. Habitat helps to repair homes of families whose income is between 20% to 80% of median income. During the review process I was surprised that most of the applicants are over the age of 65 and living alone or with a spouse. There is no one to take care of them. According to the U.S. Census (2010) report, 11 million people over the age of 65 live alone. This was a cultural shock. I grew up in a society of extended families where parents generally live either with sons or daughters in their old age and they take pride of doing that. I am not judging which one is good or bad but I cannot imagine how elderly people get support when they have problems. One such example was when last week when an 84 year-old lady called me and told me that she needs an urgent repair of her back door. One of our construction department guys had promised to do it although she had not applied for Critical Home Repair program. She lives alone. She was not able to go out of that door for one week. I tried to convince her that we have to follow our process with the next application starting in January. I was so moved when she responded, “What is the use of the door, if I die before January”. I took the request to management to address her issue as soon as possible. She is only one among 40 other applicants who need urgent repairs and we have limited budget to support all.

There is another family where both husband and wife are disabled.  Recently the husband has undergone surgery for cancer.  They need to repair their ramp to accommodate their needs, as they cannot move out of their house. I listen to their stories when they share with me and I just pray for them. There are many such stories that have touched my heart. I never imagined that the US has so many problems and poverty before I came. I’m finding it hard to select a few applications when the needs are more.  The organization teaches you to be professional in dealing with such matters however, I always struggle as a Christian when I hear their cries. There is so much to do.  I am praying everyday that God will provide more people to donate resources enabling Habitat to reach out helping hands to all these families.  I am blessed and thankful to God for choosing me to be a mediator for these families. I believe that this is not only a job, but this is my vocation that God has called me for.