Wednesday, February 06 2013

KFA Volunteers Travel Abroad with Habitat for Humanity


2012 was a year of service for two KFA’ers who traveled abroad with Habitat for Humanity: Tarrah to the Philippines, and John to India. They share a bit of their experience here.


In December, I traveled with Habitat for Humanity India to the northwestern state of Rajasthan where I helped build needed housing for expanding families in the small village of Bajhera, just outside the small city of Bharatpur. Habitat teamed up with the local non-profit Lupin, which helps provide needed services to rural southwest Rajasthan, including housing aid, agricultural education, water conservation, and advancement for women and children. With the future homeowners of each house working hard right beside us, our team of 18 volunteers helped local masons haul, stack, and lift the traditional materials of local construction – brick, mortar, earth, and sandstone – into three small houses that would become part of the families’ expanding living and working quarters. Each house measured about 10’ x10’, and was built on a foundation raised several feet above natural grade to protect from monsoon floods. Although the village was poor, the children were well-cared-for and educated, and the people were warm, welcoming, and full of life. Traveling with the purpose to help others, and working with Habitat and the villagers, was nothing like I’ve ever done before: you become deeply engaged with the people and all parts of the culture and the rhythms of daily life – eating, laughing, problem-solving. And I’m ready to do it all over again. See some of my photographs and details of the house building (and my free time exploring).


The Philippines is, like many other third world countries, suffering from a housing crisis, with innumerable homes built on land susceptible to flooding. Habitat for Humanity Philippines teamed up with local government to provide housing to those Filipinos who were living in emergency shelters in the Northern part of Metro Manila and this was the build site for our group of 3 Singaporeans and 6 Americans. Each home is the size of a large living room back in the states, but will house families of 6 to 8 people in Manila.

The partner family we worked alongside was tireless, always thanking us with perfect timing, when the sun was beating down, our faces were sweaty, and our feet were heavy with mud. In the end, the four walls became a symbol of security, family, and most importantly, opportunity for each family. As my grandfather did sixty years ago as a US Navy Seabee, I travelled to the Philippines looking for adventure. What I found was a beautiful country with mountains covered in rice terraces, hospitality in the eyes of smiling curious faces, and the opportunity to give ten families a better and brighter life for their children. To see my daily photo journal and blog, please visit