Perceptions; everyone forms one on anyone they meet. Such is part of life. There are initial perceptions, otherwise known as first impressions, when you first meet someone. Often, it is these first impressions that form our beliefs about others, then, we begin to look for things, which will reinforce the initial impression.
Over time this can create a F.E.A.R.(False Evidence Appearing Real) picture of the other person. What's worse is that it is very difficult to overcome this picture if it has been built up over time This F.E.A.R. picture often comes from lack of information, and sometimes from lack of education.
For Habitat homeowners, the perception is that these families do not have a job and that our homes are given away. Nothing could be further from the truth. But people often look for things, which might reinforce their limiting beliefs. I've had people contact me after reading an article on public housing, asking me why we continually "give away" homes to "these" families, not knowing we're not public housing. This becomes an AHA! Moment, as it affords me the opportunity to educate them on what Habitat IS.
Sometimes these perceptions carryover to our worksites, as our families are required to put in "sweat" equity hours, working on the homes of others, as well as, their own. The expectation is that the homeowner will be there each day, on the worksite.
Ideally, that's what we like to see, but for some, in reality, it is more difficult. The reason could be their job will not let them off during the build days of their home. This doesn't happen often, but we must be cognizant of the current economy, how important it is to stay employed. Sometimes it is due to health issues, as some families cannot actually do the physical work on the home. This is why we offer a variety of ways for our families to earn their 400 "sweat" equity hours.
We have been working on our communications with our volunteers to keep them informed on the progress of our families, AND the limitations that prohibit their being on the worksite. This communication has helped a lot in changing perceptions.
These F.E.A.R pictures are formed sometimes when we work on houses in Guatemala, as well. I've been 15 times, and on one of those trips the family for our house was seen the first day for a few minutes, a few minutes the 3rd day, and at the end of our last day just before climbing on the truck to return to our hotel.
This homeowner's name was Mercedes, 26 years old with one child. By the third day on site without seeing her, I was looking forward to telling a Habitat Guatemala representative that she had not been there with us much. But then, as we were about to leave the site that last day, two things happened: She asked us to wait while she ran into her mother's house and came back with a Bible, her mother, daughter and her sister.
She prayed for each of us, placing her hands on our arms, for what seemed like 5 minutes each. By the time she finished praying with us, we were ALL in tears. The second thing was we found out why we hadn't seen her much. Every morning she arose at 5 am, and visited each home on the mountain where she lived. She collected the dirty clothing from each family, carried it down to the bottom of the mountain to a large stream, washed each stack of clothes, then, dried them on bushes. When all the stacks of clothes were ready, she would carry each stack back, one at a time, to the respective family. This was how she earned the money to pay for her house.
Our perception was a MISPERCEPTION. This F.E.A.R. perception happens in everyday life, both at home, and at work, whether it is for profit or nonprofit, and all caused by lack of information or lack of education. The hard part for us as human beings, is taking time to gather the information and education, as well as, imparting the information and education.It is a two way street when it comes to communication.
If you treat an individual ... as if he were what he ought to be, and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe