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Friday, November 16, 2007

November 11-16: Nagewadi Village, near Karjat--Habitat Build

After arriving in Karjat after a three hour bus ride from Mumbai, we checked into our hotel, the Rivergate Resort ( The Rivergate was about 30 minutes to the Nagewadi Village, where we would be building houses for the next several days.

Each day, we would have breakfast, get on the bus by 7:45, and head to the village. We would work until about 12:30, break for lunch, then go back to work until around 5:00. The days were long and hot. But what a rewarding experience!

Nagewadi Village:

Our team of forty people worked on 8 houses while we were there. I worked on house #8. Each house was named and dedicated to the woman of the house-- in the case of my house, Chebi Vithal Thorad. The brick houses we were building replaced houses that were made from reeds, thatched together with cow manure. Here's a picture of a thatched house.

Here's Chebi with her husband and three kids:

As the week went on, the villagers, especially the children, really opened up to us. While we couldn't speak each others languages, we learned to communicate. I made friends with a 15 year old named Kashav who helped us with our house. The children, including Kashav, would mix mud in a pit for us to use as mortar as we layed bricks. They would also bring the mud to us as we asked for "mati" the Marathi word for mud. "Mati, mati!" we would yell, and the kids would bring the mud. Here's our house on the first day, with a view of the mati pit:

And here's my friend Kashav, standing in the mud pit. I think this is before he snuck up on me and left a muddy handprint on my shirt:

Here I am with some of the kids in the guava tree. I had the honor of being the first and only injury on the job site. I accidentally ran into a limb of the guava tree. The medical staff on duty tood it very seriously and bandaged me up while all the villagers stood watch.

Here, on day 2, Smita and I are working on the house:

The kids loved being in pictures, and then seeing themselves on the digital cameras. Front right in the picture below is a 'neighbor kid' named Madhuri, who was quite the Diva, as you can see. She was also really bright. She would continually surprise me by sneaking in an English word when you least expected it: One day, sitting in the guava tree, she counted to 70 in English.

Here's the house on Day 2:

And on Day 3:

And on the last day of building:

While we didn't finish this particular house, the team did finish one of the houses which we dedicated on the last day. Each of the eight houses were in various states of completion at the start. We did have a 'dedication ceremony' and decorated the house to make it look festive. Madhuri decorated the ground in front of the house with rangoli-- a design in colored powders in the sand:

A completed house:

The last day of the build was very sad for me. I wanted another week with the kids, another week to work on the house. Leaving the village and saying goodbye was difficult.

The kids waving goodbye on the last day:

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