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Habitat Volunteers From All Walks Of Life Cherish Build In Western India

They Include Members Of American Alumni Association And Staff And Clients Of India’s ASK Group

MUMBAI, 3rd April 2009: Professionals, diplomats, financial services employees and students were among the volunteers who found satisfaction in building with Habitat for Humanity in western India.

 

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(Left) Paul Folmsbee, U.S. Consul General for Mumbai, laying bricks.
(Right) Folmsbee and some team members with Habitat’s family after the work is done.

 

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ASK Group sent volunteers to Nagewadi village in Karjat in its second build with HFH India.

 

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While some volunteers (left) enjoyed kneading soil with their bare feet, others such as ASK client Chetan Mehrotra (right) took well to masonry.

The American Alumni Association, a voluntary organization, sent 23 members to lay bricks and paint walls in Tadwadi village near Karjat, western India. Among the volunteers were president of the AAA, Poorvi Chothani and U.S. Consul General for Mumbai, Paul Folmsbee. Others on the team included lawyers, doctors, engineers, psychologists, other professionals, businessmen as well as high school students.

AAA volunteer Tarana said: “Actually building and talking to the people living here was the best experience.” According to Poorvi Chothani, volunteers might be exhausted, sun-burnt and aching in every muscle after the build but they were well compensated by the joy and satisfaction of having helped families and contributed to the society.

Established in 1968, American Alumni Association is a voluntary organization with more than 600 members who are US university alumni currently residing in India.

Separately, 65 volunteers from ASK Group, a financial group, took part in separate builds at Nagewadi village in Karjat. On the first build, 45 staff from the Indian financial services group worked with four Habitat families to lay bricks and plastered and painted the walls. Volunteer Satish Narayan: “Getting to build someone’s ‘dream’ from scratch was the most satisfying experience.” Others relished kneading soil. “My favorite experience was getting into the pit and mixing the mud with water kneading soil - absolutely messy but superb experience,” said such as Bhavana Advani.

A few days later, several of ASK’s clients joined a Habitat build in the same village. Chetan Mehrotra said: “I have learnt to do masonry which I had never done in my life. A very good experience! I also learnt the value of labor put in by the villagers which was very educative. Now my respect for the villagers has increased.” Taking pride in one’s work also made a difference. Another ASK client Shahnaz Vakil said: “The highlight was working with the experienced mason who praised our efforts and said we were doing it correctly.”

The build marked the second time that ASK had sent volunteers to build with Habitat. In March 2008, 60 volunteers from ASK worked with Habitat families to build core houses on the Karjat site.

Since October 2007, the Indian company has been a strong Habitat partner, donating 3.6 million rupees (more than US$91,000) to fund a-100 house Habitat project in western India. In July 2008, ASK donated 43.7 million rupees (about US$1.1 million) to another two-year project to house low-income rural families in the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.