Invigorated for our next day of volunteering, we all rose early the third day. Some of our team had been delayed due to travel issues (after all, India is pretty far away!) but we were finally all here and ready to work! But first, our daily #volunteeringisfun fitness video! (Yes, I realize this isn’t normal but there is a story behind it – check out DAY 1 and DAY 2.)
Since I had never volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on a global build before, I didn’t really have any expectations for the other volunteers. That said, I was completely impressed! From left to right:
- Our fearless leader, retired executive that now leads Habitat for Humanity groups all over the world.
- English teacher is China that decided to volunteer and try something new.
- (This girl!) An aircraft mechanic in the US Armed Services.
- A trainer for seeing eye dogs for the blind.
- An emergency room MD (She prefers the night shift!).
- Recent Harvard Law Graduate, headed to the UN to help refugees.
- A designer and builder from Portland, OR.
- A financial analyst from Charlotte, NC.
- And ME on the far right, just trying to keep up with this POWER group of volunteers!
As we got to work on Day 3, I made this little video to explain what we were doing. Nevermind my sweaty/smudged Bindi!
As we were working along, we heard a BEEP, BEEP from where the road runs along the village. Additional cement blocks had arrived and it was our job to move them into the village.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a pretty athletic and competitive group of volunteers and we REALLY worked HARD! That said, Habitat for Humanity accommodates all willing volunteers and there would have been plenty to do that wasn’t such manual labor.
Since I returned from India, I have been asked over and over, “how was it”? It’s hard to answer because so much of this experience was me mentally dealing with what I saw. On our breaks, when we would stop and look around the village, we easily could have been discouraged. What was one little house going to do in a whole village of poverty?
But it was quickly evident that this was about more than the single house we were building. Generations of women were able to see strong women doing what “only men could do” and we all knew this was important. The cultural norm is for women to stay home and raise children and tend the house, which is wonderful if that was their choice, but in many cases it was just the expectation. Our goal was to show that women and men could work together in many different roles.
At the end of the day, we were dead tired. Exhausted. Our volunteer leader took us to a traditional Indian restaurant in the heart of the city where we got to sample some local beer and delicious food.
Driving around India is the city AT NIGHT was a whole different experience. More on that in the upcoming posts! Arriving back to the hotel, we all said our goodnights and headed to our rooms. A quick text home that “all was well” and we all fell asleep thinking about the job we had ahead of us.