890 Habitat for Humanity

MB talks with Matthew about working with Habitat for Humanity.


Matthew: Hi, everybody. My name's Matthew White and I'm here interviewing Mary-Birch Harmon, who we lovingly call MB. MB, we know you go on lots of trips for Habitat For Humanity. Could you please explain exactly what is Habitat?

MB: Sure. Habitat For Humanity is an NGO that's based out of America and it's committed to stopping poverty housing all over the world.

Matthew: All over the world. OK, so normally do you do your work in America or where do you go?

MB: I have gone on many trips in Asia actually. I'm mostly involved with Habitat For Humanity International.

Matthew: So how many trips have you been on?

MB: I've been on six different trips.

Matthew: OK, six trips.

MB: Yeah.

Matthew: And where did you go on the last trip?

MB: I went to Papua New Guinea for two weeks.

Matthew: Two weeks.

MB: Yeah, and I went with ten students and there were three teachers on the trip as well.

Matthew: Students! And how do you convince students to go on these trips?

MB: Well, I'm a member of a campus chapter through a university in Japan and I've been able to go on these trips with the students because they are very committed as well to stopping poverty housing and they've studied a lot about the different countries that we visit and they've studied a lot about how we can help by helping to build a house.

Matthew: You said you went to Papua New Guinea last time.

MB: Yeah.

Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?

MB: Sure. We had a wonderful time. We were there for two weeks and we were working on a wooden house. In the previous trips we never had used wood before so this was a new experience for the students and for myself and it was lot of work. It was a lot of hard work but we were able to finish most of the house. We didn't complete everything, but we worked as hard as we could and we put a lot of love into the house and it was a lot of fun.

Matthew: So do you have... I mean, how do you... You're building a house. Do you have some special construction skills?

MB: No, I don't. I'm an unskilled laborer, but when you go on a trip they have skilled laborers there, or skilled people there that teach you how to build, so we do very simple tasks and we try to help the local people or the family build their house.

Matthew: When you say simple tasks, simple can different for different people. What's a simple task?

MB: Well, like we learn how to mix cement which means that you have to mix it using the cement sand as well as water as well as rock or you learn how to plane wood which is to make it very smooth, or you learn how to hammer a piece of wood for a wall or for flooring or anything like that. Simple meaning a job that anyone could learn how to do.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

we lovingly call

I'm interviewing Mary Birch-Harmon, who we lovingly call MB.

We 'lovingly call' someone by a cute nickname.  Notice the following:

  1. Our team captain is over 200 cm tall. We lovingly call him shorty.
  2. We lovingly call our aunt Beatrice, Bee.


Habitat For Humanity is an NGO that's based out of America.

An 'NGO' is an organization not connected to a government. NGOs help people, protect the environment and generally work for positive change in the world.  Notice the following:

  1. Greenpeace is probably the most famous NGO.
  2. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is the highest rated NGO.

poverty housing

It's committed to stopping poverty housing.

'Poverty housing' can be found in poor areas. The houses are often made from discarded materials and generally not safe.  Notice the following:

  1. Poverty housing is a big problem in poor counties.
  2. In some places in America, poverty housing remains a problem.

convince students to go

How do you convince students to go?

We 'convince' somebody to do something by giving them reasons why it is a good thing.  Notice the following:

  1. It was difficult to convince my students to go to the listening lab after school.
  2. His job is to convince students to go abroad with his company's study program.

unskilled laborer

I'm an unskilled laborer.

An unskilled laborer has no training or special skills and usually does hard physical work.  Notice the following:

  1. Unskilled laborers are usually not well paid.
  2. It's becoming more difficult for unskilled laborers to find work.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Keep Listening

Below are some more great lessons!

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
lovingly • NGO • poverty
convince • unskilled
  1. There is a lot of housing in India.
  2. You can't her to do something she doesn't want to do.  That girl is stubborn.
  3. We called that old dog Smelly.
  4. He has had a number of jobs in the last 7 years.
  5. She has been working for a development for a few years now.