In August 2016 I traveled to India to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. My very candid recap of the story here…
The final day of the trip and after 12 days (See Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10 & 11) it was great to celebrate our progress. We loaded into the Habitat for Humanity volunteer bus and headed to the Global Village jobsite in Bangalore City, India.
A little worse for the wear, we weren’t sure what our final day in the village would bring. Upon arriving at the village we found out they were preparing for a festival the next day and there were beautiful designs masking the dirt roads and pathways.
Now completely ready to have the foundation poured, we climbed into what was a flat plot of dirt when we started and felt a sense of accomplishment as we stood beneath the earth. We knew the next group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers were already on their way and would pick up right where we left off. The idea that were a part of something bigger, that there were other people travelling just like we had, was an invigorating and hopeful concept.
The family that was soon going to be moving into one of the houses we built, motioned us into a small room in a nearby structure. We didn’t speak the same language, but they thanked us with their eyes and their smiles.
As an interpreter joined us, we were able to ask questions. We were told in advance that it was culturally inappropriate to ask the age of adults and never to ask a man how much money they make. The mother (wearing the blue sari) and the father (he is just out of sight to the right side of the photo) have been married (arranged marriage, as is still very prevalent) for 40 years. They have 5 boys and 1 daughter (shown with the striped sleeves). The daughter has the most schooling, completing the 10th standard (10th Grade) before coming home to learn to cook so she can be married properly. The youngest boy would like to be a police officer.
As we sat on the floor, the awkwardness melted away and we felt like old friends sharing stories. They also asked questions of us, which we answered enthusiastically. Have a woman doctor, a woman in the military, a woman that builds houses, all in our volunteer group – I think this was as eye-opening of an experience for them as it was for us.
And just like that, it was over. We waived goodbye as we left the village and all of us sat silently lost in thought.
I had come into this experience having never been to India, having never volunteered internationally with Habitat for Humanity, and not having a lot of expectations. I left with an entirely new perspective, having seen an entirely different way of life in a foreign land. But I couldn’t help but realize that although the world is big, with trips like these, my world was getting smaller. The more I saw, the more I gave, the more I can connect the dots between what I have and what others need – the better my life will be.
And because we worked so hard on it – one more photo of that trench!