Kenny Henson to go to Peru to build homes as part of Fuller Center for Housing project

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 9, 2012 

Kenny Henson figures his job this summer is easily going to beat his last one.

"I won't be pulling out any weeds," Henson said, laughing.

Instead of doing landscape work, the 21-year-old Davidson College student from Columbus, will be spending about two months in La Florida, Peru, preparing for a project of the Fuller Center for Housing.

"It is this year's Millard Fuller Legacy Build," Hailey Dady explained. She is the Fuller Center global builders coordinator. "The week of Sept. 1-8 we will be building 10 houses. Kenny is going down there to help make a lot of the arrangements for us. He is going to be very busy."

Besides building, the faith-based, nonprofit organization that calls itself a "housing ministry" is going to be planting 2,500 trees.

"You hear Peru and you think of big forests but the land there looks like the moon," Henson said. "Nothing but dirt."

Dady explained the soil isn't very fertile and there is little rainfall. Still, the trees selected should grow there with proper care.

"It is a chance to do something meaningful, something to make a difference. I like that," Henson said of the job.

As someone who has set a goal to become fluent in Spanish, the location of the work is also a big plus for him.

"Two months without speaking much English should do it," Henson said.

Henson, a Brookstone graduate, has previously been to Costa Rica to work on language skills but has never been out of the country for this length of time.

"I should have some great stories," he said.

La Florida is about a two-hour drive from Lima. Because it is in the Southern Hemisphere it will be winter there so the weather will be cooler. "No snow, nothing like that," Dady said.

A Millard Fuller Legacy Build will also be taking place on Sept. 9-14 in Henry County, Ga.

Working with the Fuller Center is a natural for Henson, who leaves June 18 for Peru.

His father, Columbus attorney Ken Henson Jr., is one of the founders of the organization. He was a longtime friend of Fuller who also founded Habitat For Humanity.

As a boy, the son traveled with the father for a Habitat For Humanity project in Panama. Henson called it a "great experience."

"Millard Fuller and my father worked together. He was a great influence on my father," Henson said. "When he spoke, my father listened."

Dady said the organization is about giving back and making sure people have a safe and secure house.

"This job will let me totally immerse myself in the vision of Millard Fuller," Henson said.

It was his father who suggested to Henson that if he was looking for a great summer experience then he might want to take a look at the Fuller Center.

"He has never pushed me into doing any kind of service," Henson said. "My father has always led by example."

He said that he has learned from his father how important affordable housing is and the effect it has on people.

"It all begins with a house," he said.

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