Bioethics Blogs

Building a House, Creating a Home

By Matthew Schreier

“There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.”
~Rosalynn Carter

Food, water, shelter, education.

These facets of a healthy, safe lifestyle are seen by most of us as a basic human right.  It is in their steady presence that we are able to pursue our goals of personal growth, intellectual achievement, and career success.  For people in many parts of the world, however, it is in the acquisition these basic rights that they must focus the bulk of their energy.

For one week of this summer, six fellow medical students, one physician, one bioethicist, one firefighter, one dean, and I had the opportunity to travel down to Belize and help a family build themselves a shelter.  Estrella, the woman for whom we would be building a house, lived in a house with her son and mother that had all the components of a home: photographs, decorations, a pair of adorable dogs, and one of the strongest family bonds I have experienced.  The structure of the house itself, however, was a bit less faithful, with the foundation sinking and the floor caving in to the moisture. The shelter that this family deserved was giving out on them, so together with Hand-In-Hand Ministries, we were to come down and assist them in building a new one…

Building a house is hard work.  Building a house in a humid 106º heat tests more than a few of the body’s capabilities.  Yet whenever I sat down to my many breaks to rehydrate, catch some shade, and attempt to regain basic human function, I noticed one person who never stopped working: Estrella.  In her heart of hearts, she knew she deserved to have a functional, safe, well-built house, and yet not once did she sit back and expect others to build it for her.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.