Students build homes for the poor in India
A trip to build homes for impoverished families in India was a life-changing experience for a group of Bermudian teenagers.
Maha Clarke, Treasure Tannock, George Frost and Miguel Postlethwaite were among 55 Bermuda Overseas Missions volunteers who travelled to Bangalore to help construct houses with Habitat for Humanity.
Treasure, 19, said: “I learnt a lot on this trip, not just about construction or building relationships. It put into perspective that people can be content with so little in comparison to what we have.
The Spelman College, Atlanta, student added: “They always have a smile on their face, they are always happy. They might not have the most money in the world, but they still let all these people come into their house and offer breakfast.”
The group, the largest to head overseas with BOM, travelled to India last month to help build 14 new homes for families in need.
George, 18, said: “The trip made me realise that rather than complaining about the things that I might not have, I should be a lot more thankful for the things I do have.”
The University of Surrey student added: “Seeing the children makes you realise why you are doing it as you are giving them a house to grow up in.”
Treasure added: “The house means so much to them. We have a house and we just take it as ‘oh, I have a roof over my head’.
“For them it means security, it means foundation, it means a solid place for the family to live, and not just the current family, but the generations after that, so we are making an impact.”
Miguel, 16, said the most important lesson he learnt was not to take life for granted, while Maha, 19, said it made her realise the difference she could make”.
She said: “We don’t even have to start overseas. We can start with our local community as there is a lot of need in Bermuda too.”
Miguel, a CedarBridge Academy pupil, said they got halfway through building the house he was working on with the help of the local community.
He explained: “It was a lot of hard work. It was all manual stuff as there were no electric tools out there.
“We expected to be doing all the hard work by ourselves, but you see aunties, grandmas, everybody coming out to help.”
Maha added: “What was really cool was that even though a lot of them did not speak English and we did not know how to speak their language, the language barrier didn’t stop us from working together.
Maha, a student at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, said: “Even though we had cultural differences and language barriers, unity can be universal. You can continue to spread hope, give back and pay it forward.
“The kids may not have understood what we were saying, but we still managed to put a smile on their faces and they managed to move our hearts just the same.”
George said he really enjoyed bonding with the other volunteers, who ranged in age from 14 to 65.
Maha added: “It just goes to show that if you have a common goal in mind, then nothing can really stop you as a team.”
Treasure said they also struck up friendships with local people, in one case bonding over a shared love of rapper Drake.
Maha added: “Our relationships didn’t stop once the trip was over. We continued to develop these relationships and stay in contact.”
The four teenagers urged others to follow in their footsteps and emphasised that help is available with funding in return for volunteer hours.
Miguel said: “It’s a great experience and a part of you will be for ever out there. A part of me is for ever in India.”
Treasure added: “I definitely feel that they changed my life more than I might have changed theirs.
“I can confidently say that they made a huge impact on my whole team and how we move throughout this society going forward in terms of our needs and wants.”
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