Helping build in Nepal – a volunteer’s story

Jul 8, 2015

Warren Jack traveled to Nepal to take part in the Habitat build in 2014. Here’s what he said about his experience.

“I was most moved by the family I was helping to build a house for. They, like all of the other families being housed as part of the EBIII project, were living in a miserable squatters’ village that the Government wanted to move on to better utilise the land they were occupying.

This village of 35 families were living in shacks and had only one or two toilets and one water well between them. The head of the family we built for was an elderly widow who was permanently bedridden due to physical disability.

The dwelling she lived in had rice thatching and plastic bags for the roof, walls of thin branches with a mud lathing and a dirt floor. The mother’s bed had a tent erected of plastic sheeting over it to provide protection from a badly leaking roof during wet weather.

This house was also the home of her daughter, son-in-law and their four children. We heard that some of the people of that village were freed bonded labourers (bonded labour was outlawed only in 2006 in Nepal and was the closest thing to modern day slavery and typically involved lower caste people).

The daughter worked on the house with us for much of the week but was unable to seek ongo¬ing employment because of the nursing needs of the mother. Her husband had been working in Thailand in order to earn money to send home so that the family could be sustained but they had just learned that the company he worked for had failed and the husband had lost his job and was having to return to Nepal to seek employment there.

It was very poignant for me to realise the abject poverty living conditions this family had to endure. The house we were building was going to do much for the morale and dignity of the family and provide a leak–proof roof over the mother’s bed.

This made me realise how fortunate we are in New Zealand and at the same time gave me a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction at being able to participate in such a worthwhile cause. It was common for members of the Kiwi Habitat Global Village team to claim that this had been a life-changing experience and a privilege for them to have been able to participate in.”

– Warren Jack, Habitat for Humanity Nepal volunteer/group leader, November 2014