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New Hope in Nepal -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

New Hope in Nepal

As Habitat World announces the launch of its 2011 photo contest, last year’s prize winner shares his experience at the Everest Build.


Neil Reid.
Photo by Justin Niederkorn


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New Hope in Nepal


In May 2010, I received an e-mail that in no small way changed my life, the e-mail informing me I was the winner of the Habitat World photography contest.

My winning photo “New Hope” had been taken in Mozambique, where I led a team of 14 Habitat volunteers from Northern Ireland. September 2010 saw me return to Mozambique, leading another team of volunteers. We represented a range of ages, beliefs and social backgrounds, yet all we were focused on was working hard in the hot sun. This is what it should be like, and this is what I love about Habitat — people coming together for a common cause.

With yet another successful Mozambique mission completed, I left my team at the airport and headed off into the great unknown on my way to Nepal. What lay ahead? What sort of an impact would we make? These questions swirled in my head as I traveled to the home of Sagarmatha, more commonly known as Mount Everest. Upon my arrival, I was struck by the beauty of the country, the green rice paddies, the stunning colors in the saris of the local women, the Himalayas, and amongst all the hustle and bustle in the streets an underlying sense of calm.

The bamboo build was a first for me. Having always worked with heavy concrete blocks, the strong lightweight bamboo was a welcome relief and surprisingly easy to work with. Treated bamboo frames, woven walls, zinc sheeting and concrete were shaped over the following six days into a home.

Everyone soon found their working stride, and under the watchful guidance of our house leader, we finished our house in time for the dedication ceremony at the end. I once again saw “new hope,” this time in the eyes of the Tiwari family as they entered their new home.

As I plan the next chapter of my Habitat story, I will always remember the Everest Build. The build process, the graciousness of the Nepalese people, amazing teammates, the scenery, but more importantly the fact that we helped a family find their feet and helped to secure the future of four amazing children.

I have previously been quoted as saying that everyone should take part in a Habitat trip and that, through this, you will receive back tenfold what you put in. I can confirm that tenfold will only scratch the surface. — Neil Reid