The day had begun with a rush to get to the airplane on time; from long check-in lines and security lines early in the morning in our half-dazed, still sleepy state of mind. We had a pretty smooth flight journey, and we reached the airport. We were welcomed into Mumbai under the sweltering, scorching heat of the Sun. We were introduced to the guides who were part of Habitat for Humanity, and who would be helping us during our stay. We had a hearty breakfast at McDonalds’ and proceeded to our rooms. After lunch, we had a welcome orientation, in which we learnt about the importance of housing and sanitation for people around the world. It was truly saddening to realise that basic necessities, such as a roof on top of our heads, or access to clean water, which we take for granted in our lives, were an everyday struggle for poorer people living there. I hoped that through building houses for the villagers in Karjat, I could make a small, but significant difference in their lives, by providing them with a home, to keep away from the scorching Sun or the dreadful storms.
On the second day, we embarked on a bus journey to a little-known village amidst the beautiful mountains. We were presented with the task to paint houses using the traditional turquoise and red colours synonymous with Habitat for Humanity. Firstly, we finished the unfinished work of the previous group by painting the top portions of house and all the pillars too. After that, we proceeded to take a short break to re-energize ourselves before moving on to the second house to beautify it. Filled with enthusiasm, we helped the masons mix the paint colours and later painted the first coat on three sides of the wall under scorching heat. After a short yet relaxing lunch break, we were back to work painting the second coat. After giving a few finishing touches with the help of the hardworking day-labourers, we managed to put a smile on the home-owners’ faces. With the guidance of Kriti ma’am, Hillary sir and Shalini ma’am, we were successful in accomplishing what we came for. The end result was heart-warmingly fruitful and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
On the third day of our trip, we started to the village of Katevadi for the second time. This morning, we were considerably more tired from the painting work we did the day before, but we got up early nonetheless and started on the hour long bus ride. We reached the village at around ten, and the other group went off to do painting work, while my group stayed behind to complete the brickwork of the house that they had started. The foundations of the house had already been laid down, but we constructed the pillars, and finished the walls up to the top. We weren’t amazing masons, so we did the semi-skilled work, like moving the bricks from the outside to the inside of the house and handing them up to the actual masons, who were perched on the beams to lay them down. We had fun making a long human relay line to help give the masons the bricks. The ones who weren’t in the brick line were helping to transport the cement that was being used to hold the bricks together. It was fascinating to learn that in rural areas like that, they used less of actual cement and mixed it in with organic matter to cut costs. Other than the two relay lines, one of us was on the beams with the masons, laying the bricks down. In this fashion, we rotated between the roles. Little kids and other inhabitants from the village came during the end of our work time to help us all out, and it was thrilling to see all of us working together in harmony. At the very end, we assembled in front of our completed and new houses with the banners of school and Habitat for Humanity and took many pictures to commemorate our achievements.