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Friday, November 20, 2009

Thailand Habitat Build

Above: The Build Site (early on in the week)

Above: Foosh and I building (Photo by Ching-Fong Hsieh)

Today was the final day of our Delta Habitat Build, and it was by far the most emotional of the week. We started the day a bit earlier than usual, both to ensure everything was set for our morning photo opportunity with President and Mrs. Carter, and to make sure we finished everything we needed to complete before starting our journey home.

As we wrapped up our work, we readied the new home for its dedication, placing streamers and balloons on the windows and doors. Finally, we gathered in front of the house, by the newly planted flowers and shrubs, circling up beside the homeowners with whom we have worked side by side all week.

Above: The Dedication Ceremony (Photo by Casey Wang)
Many emotions ran through me as we began the dedication. In just a few short but hot days, the homeowner and his wife have become special to me. Even though I can say only a few words and phrases in Thai, we’ve managed to communicate with one another and somehow form a bond. Today, they were no longer just “the homeowners.” They are real people—Kumbao and Khampa-- who have let us into their lives, just for a little while.

As they thank us through a translator for the work we’ve done in providing this new home, they also tell us how much they appreciate the dinner we invited them to share the evening before at Deck 1 on the river. Kumbao thanks us for the nice meal, a meal that costs more than he makes in a day, and reminds us that he may never experience such a dinner again.

(Photo by Ching-Fong Hsieh)

(Photo by Ching-Fong Hsieh)

Kumbao begins to choke up as he tells expresses his gratitude for his new home, and his eyes are not the only ones with tears.

While we present them with the keys to the house and some gifts for their home with money we’ve collected amongst ourselves, I realize they have managed to give so much more than what I’ve given them. I am more appreciative of all the privileges I have, and the many meals I have taken for granted. I now have new Delta friends from all over the company, friends who have shared this incredible experience of building a house from the ground up, placing bricks, pouring mortar and hanging roof tiles. And I know I have a place to stay in Chiang Mai, with an open invitation from Kumbao and Khampa.

It has been an incredible week that can hardly be described in words. To Delta and all of the Delta volunteers, to Habitat for Humanity, and especially to Kumbao and Khampa, all I can say is, “Khob khun krub!—Thank you!”

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