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Lucky to be doing this work...

Tuesday, August 9

Today my team worked on House #3—our main task for the day was to complete the stucco work on the exterior of the house. Work started slowly in the morning as we assembled to begin the stucco. Large pans were filled with thick mud. I was led to the wall and was requested to watch as the stucco was slapped on the wall with the same motion as hitting a top spin on a tennis ball. Our instructor—one of the masons—made quick work of a patch of wall, applying an even coat of mud. He made it look so easy.

Next, it was my turn. I nervously gripped the trowel and having a vague flashback to my previous stucco experience—haphazardly flinging stucco onto the foreman five feet away—I pursed my lips and swung. The stucco hit the wall with a slap and actually stuck. After an hour I rotate to mud crew, passing the metal trays full of stucco from our mixer to those doing the work. I was working with four women from Kanyakumari. They gracefully passed the trays, not spilling a drop. They repeated my name each time they passed a tray and would lead me into the shade for breaks. I was well taken care of by my Indian friends.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted and covered from head to toe in splatters of stucco. All I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. Our afternoon activity, however, helped remind me how lucky I am to be doing this work. We visited a community hit by the tsunami. We saw shells of homes and piles of rubble where homes once stood mere meters from the waves of the sea. The images will stay with me and I will be reminded of them each time I think of a bit of dirt or inconvenience.

Carolyn Beal, CCYP volunteer in Kanyakumari, India