Emma Tallon (Australia)

Emma Tallon (Australia)

Emma Tallon made her first trip to Sri Lanka in November 2018. She was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity through her organization – Morgans. Emma and her team of 10 were able to raise just under $50,000 to support Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka.

Although Emma was aware that she will be volunteering to help less fortunate families, the conditions in which these homeowners survive were lot harsher than she expected which Emma found to be mind-boggling.

Bonding with the homeowners was a memorable experience for Emma; she especially connected with the daughter of the first homeowner she met and couldn’t believe how the homeowners manage to overcome the communication barriers between them and get their message across.

Emma was touched by the homeowner’s hospitality and how with almost nothing, the homeowners never fail to smile and spread love and kindness

George Clarke (Canada)

George Clarke (Canada)

George Clarke has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for almost ten years now; and he made his first trip to Sri Lanka in April 2019. George led a team of 12 members; some of who had been on GV trips before and some were first time Habitat Volunteers.

Their build was located in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka – sunny Batticaloa. His volunteer experience in Sri Lanka was special for many reasons – one of them being the opportunity to work alongside one mason in particular; Ram. Ram had never worked with volunteers before and he was excited to have volunteers assisting him with the construction of his house. The language barrier between Ram and the volunteers was not a challenge as they began to work together. George loved how Ram always showed up with a smile no matter how hot or humid it was on the build site and he really let them try everything they could on the construction site, including leveling the foundation.

By the third day of their build, Ram would challenge George; and the two of them would compete to see who finishes the task first. This dynamic had a way of empowering both volunteer and mason, and they didn’t feel the day pass by in the scorching heat. They were constructing a home in good spirits, with honest hard work.

On the fifth day of the build George and his team had a cooking lesson at the guest house they were staying at, which George describes to be the “greatest highlight” of the trip. Their Global Village experience was packed with local culture, hospitality and humility as they worked together with Habitat Sri Lanka to empower communities in need through decent and safe shelter.

Jessie McDermott (Australia)

Jessie McDermott (Australia)

Jessie hopped on a 12-hour flight from Australia to Sri Lanka with uncertainty and hope about her Global Village experience. What she didn’t know at that time was the journey to Sri Lanka would shape the way she would later view the world and volunteering forever.

Given the opportunity to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Jessie was aware of the unique opportunity she had to impact people’s lives who deserve it most. In this case it was a community who survived the effects of the civil war in Batticaloa.

However what Jessie was most surprised to learn through her experience, was the magnitude of the impact they as volunteers walked away with from their week of supporting this community.

Through this journey, Jessie learned “that happiness isn’t something you experience when you have everything; it’s something you are blessed with when you have people around you who love you. They taught us strength in the face of diversity. They taught us a new level of kindness and giving as they had only minimal to spare. Most importantly, they taught us the power of laughter and how it makes difficult days of hard labour and heat much, much easier.”

Jessie looks forward to pursuing more opportunities of working closely with Habitat for Humanity so that she can continue to play an active role in creating an impact in the world.

Gabrielle Chisholm (Australia)

Gabrielle Chisholm (Australia)

In November 2018, Gabrielle travelled to Batticaloa, Sri Lanka with her niece Jessie as a part of a Global Village volunteer team from Australia. It was their first time in Sri Lanka and they had both been excited for what the island and the Habitat experience had in store for them.

To Gabrielle and her team, being a Global Village volunteer was one of the most rewarding experiences in their life. It gave them a chance to bond through the action of uplifting lives. Though the harsh heat and humidity in Batticaloa was unforgiving – the mission of their journey motivated them to work hard during their volunteering week – and the team soon became experts in guided concreting of floors.

The children in the community made their week especially rewarding. Seeing them each day brought sunshine into their day. Gabrielle reflects on how this unique experience gave her and her team an everlasting connection to Sri Lanka, a connection of friendship and common purpose.

Gabrielle is also thankful to the team at Habitat Sri Lanka for their support, guidance and friendship and mentions how their team was inspired by Habitat Sri Lanka team’s hard work and dedication.

Connecting with local families and working with them for the week was so fulfilling and heart-warming. Whilst we couldn’t speak their language, we all shared the common language of laughter and friendship.

Gabrielle Chisholm, 2018

Australian Volunteer

Sally Shields (Canada)

Sally Shields (Canada)

Sally Sheilds partnered with Habitat for Humanity the first time when she received an invitation from her friend Darryll in November 2018.

Sally joined up with ten other people across Canada and came to Sri Lanka for a home build. Sally and her husband thought this a wonderful opportunity to not only create a lasting change in the community but to also see another country “we thought what a great excuse to a see a wonderful country have some fun, meet some new people and make a difference in the world.”


Habitat to me means peace; a family that has shelter will always feel safe and when they feel safe they will look after their food, they will look after their education, they will feel safe looking after and building their families and if you feel safe you have peace in your life so Habitat builds peace.

Sally Shields, 2018

Canadian Volunteer

Jennifer Lemke (Netherlands)

Jennifer Lemke (Netherlands)

Sri Lanka was always close to my heart. It was very fulfilling to be able to help the communities rebuild after the Tsunami disaster. I was happy my team chose Sri Lanka as our destination for this year’s trip. I’m so happy to be back in this beautiful country. Jennifer Lemke, 2018

National Director, Habitat Netherlands

Jennifer Lemke is not only the team leader of a group of 14 power women called ‘Hammers and Heels’ but she is also the National Director of Habitat for Humanity Netherlands. Jennifer considers ‘Hammers and Heels’ a medium to expose people in the various walks of life to the work of Habitat worldwide. Prior to their GV trip to Sri Lanka, the Power Women made three other GV trips in the recent past, where they volunteered and helped to uplift communities. As a team leader Jennifer is passionate about giving the team opportunities to experience new places and cultures while giving them great memories and also validating their efforts.

The ‘Hammers and Heels’ team finds volunteering fulfilling because it not only provides them with an opportunity to make a meaningful change in people’s lives but it also allows them to experience how selfless people can truly be, in spite of them having very little and yet are willing to share what little they have even with strangers. Jennifer made her first trip to Sri Lanka a little over ten years ago- in the aftermath of the Tsunami. In May 2018, Jennifer had the opportunity to return to Sri Lanka through ‘Hammers and Heels’. Volunteering in Sri Lanka years later and assisting victims of the civil war to rebuild their lives, has been an unforgettable experience for Jennifer. She’s proud that her team was able to play a small yet vital role in helping people to uplift the quality of their lives through Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka.