By Claire Swartzlander
Every year since 2013 I have been privileged to go with Habitat For Humanity to a small and very poor town in Mississippi. Tutwiler is a small town consisting of a small all African American church, a freelance community center for underprivileged kids to go after school, a small doctors office consisting of only one doctor, and a few tiny homes with little to no electricity. I have had the amazing opportunity the last four years to be able to go to this small town and spend time with the community there as well as build four houses for four different homeless families. We spend one week every year starting from nothing and doing the complete framework of a two bedroom and one bathroom home for a very lucky family. We also get to go to the community center and play basketball and monopoly with the kids who have nowhere to go after a long day of school which is 45 minutes from Tutwiler.
This trip has opened my eyes to the harsh reality that not many people are as fortunate as the community around me. Not everyone can go home from school and watch Netflix or play Xbox. I was able to get to know a girl named D’rya for the last four years. When I first met her when she was only 3 years old, while I was so consumed by my iPhone, her and her friends entertained themselves with just a football, a ruler, and a piece of string. And although she did not have much, she always had a smile on her face. Every year she would braid my hair and tell me about her day as if she wasn’t bothered by the fact th
at when the sun went down, her family wouldn’t have light in their house because they did not have working electricity. She changed me and made me realize that I did not need materialistic things in order to be happy. D’rya was a part of one of the fortunate families who received one of the houses we built last year. She now has working electricity and a nicer house to go home to after school. Ultimately this trip changed me and made me want to continue to help the less fortunate people around me.