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Teams Of International School Volunteers Help Build Bamboo Houses In Nepal

Students From American School Of Dubai and Shanghai American School Are Thankful For Their Experiences

JHAPA/ITHAHARI, 15th May 2008: Cutting bamboo and weaving the strips to form wall panels was a novelty for nearly 30 teenage volunteers who built with HFH Nepal. A 14-strong team from the American School of Dubai in United Arab Emirates and a 19-member team from the Shanghai American School in China helped to build a total of six houses in southeastern Nepal.

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Greater heights: Volunteers from the American School of Dubai making a wall panel with bamboo strips.

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Task-oriented: Students from Shanghai American School trying their hand at cutting bamboo into strips.

Their trips came after Nepal resumed hosting Global Village volunteers with the first team from South Korea in February 2008.

Working in the Satasidham village development committee in Jhapa district were 12 students from the American School of Dubai plus two of their teachers. In addition to cutting and splitting bamboo, the students helped the home partners to weave the bamboo strips into wall panels, and plastering the walls with mud and cement. To date, Habitat has built more than 440 houses in the area with its local partner Sahara.

After the build, the team also visited a local school in Jhapa and played soccer with the children. Rest and recreation in the southern Chitwan district and sightseeing in the capital Kathmandu comprised the rest of the team’s itinerary.

Sensing that a new home means a fresh start for the Habitat home partners, Sam Steinke from the American School of Dubai said: “We are thankful to Habitat for providing us with this opportunity to be a part of this life-changing experience.”

Home partner Bishnu Chaudhary was also grateful. “If they had not helped me, it would have taken me more than 20 days and more than 4,000 rupees (US$64) to complete this house. I’m grateful to the team because they finished all the work in five days.”

Earlier, in another southeastern district of Sunsari, more than a dozen students from the Shanghai American School helped to build three bamboo houses in Itahari municipality. Accompanied by two teachers, the 17 young volunteers worked along with Habitat home partners and other volunteers from Habitat’s partner, SOS Children’s Village. Together, they wove bamboo strips into wall panels for the houses that have cement pillars and corrugated galvanized iron roofs. Under the partnership between Habitat and SOS Children’s Village, more than 100 houses have been constructed.

The volunteers also visited a school set up in Itahari by SOS Children’s Village and had a glimpse into the local culture through their interaction with the students. Team leader Jacqueline Meijar shared: “It was an incredible time for us to get knowledge on cutting and splitting bamboo as well as weaving wall (panel) with bamboo. We had the opportunity to learn about the culture, community and the life of the people.” At the end of the build, the volunteers not only acquired knowledge but also experienced the love and care of the people whom they met, she said.

For Habitat home partner Tek Narayan Chaudhary, it was important that his 15-year-old daughter be proud of their new house. His daughter had told him that she used to be invited to her friends’ houses but she could not reciprocate because “she did not have a good house”. “This was a great challenge for me. SOS, Habitat and the Global Village team took part in carrying my burden of building a good house. Now my daughter can invite her friends to her house without any hesitation.”

Summing up, team member Jonathan Kao said: “It was a great trip, and I really became more aware of the issues in the world around me. Seeing the conditions others lived in helped me to be thankful for the privileges I have that I normally take for granted.”