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Laos: Build day one -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Laos: Build day one

By Gerard Snowball

After last evening’s great welcome dinner, today’s build started relatively early under clear blue skies.

By the end of build day one, roofs were up, walls in place, toilets fitted and foundations laid. Photo for Habitat for Humanity by Tom Stone.


The United States Ambassador, Mr. Ravik Huso, was first to arrive, bringing along three embassy staff volunteers. Shortly after, staff and volunteers from Habitat Thailand and Laos, the Community Development and Environment Association and Korea International Cooperation Agency arrived. After completing last-minute logistics, such as handing out project caps and t-shirts and taking group photos under Project banners, the volunteers were assigned to partner family houses and sent out into the village.

There were certainly lots of smiles, plus some confusion coupled with a little impatience, as the volunteers wanted to begin building, and eventually, tasks were defined, progress became apparent, and volunteers were getting into the swing of things. Lunch, of course, was a wonderful event. Volunteers sampled great Lao food and exchange long stories about an interesting start to the day.

During the first build day, volunteers were taught a Lao tradition that made them realize there would be no work on site the next day: On days or nights of the new moon, no one in Laos may work. Instead, the volunteers planned to learn about Lao traditions and lifestyle.

As the day moved into the afternoon and slowly drew to a close, volunteers could see that there had been progress. Complete roofs had gone up, walls put in place, toilets fitted and foundations laid. Volunteers, including the Ambassador and his team, were very encouraged―even noting that they were so impressed, they wanted to assist with volunteers and offer financial support for future projects. Exhausted, but fulfilled volunteers and homeowners left the site feeling very satisfied.

The build did not start out perfectly—there was some confusion in the morning about tools and assigned tasks—but it was indeed a perfect day.

Gerard Snowball is the regional resource development manager for Habitat for Humanity Asia Pacific.