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While building a house is an unforgettable experience for a girl from Boston, it was definitely the students who made it more memorable and so far the highlight of my trip.

“The thing that amazed me the most was the amount of effort and energy the students brought. This was a Saturday, their day off from work and school, and they voluntarily came to help this poor old women.”..Naomi

Naomi Plasky is a URF volunteer from Boston, MA (USA) teaching at Hope Academy. She writes about her experience working with students on the house building project in one of the villages.

Naomi & Hope Academy students mixing the mud for the walls

“When I first got to URF and found out that in the past they had helped build houses for local people in the community, I made it my mission to help build another one. Well, you can imagine my excitement when one of the staff came up to me one day and said, “Naomi, will you be around on Saturday, because we are going to build a house?” Obviously my answer was “Yes” and I quickly changed the plans I had the weekend.

That Saturday we filled the URF van with staff and at least 15 willing students. All of us made the rocky journey to Jajja Berna’s house. While I had been forewarned that her old house was broken down, I was not expecting to see what I saw. Her old house was missing walls and was basically in shambles. Because of the destruction, it was basically like she was living outside exposed to the torrential downpours that occur during the wet season.

As soon as we arrived to the house, the students who came with us jumped into action. The boys picked up hoes and started picking up dirt to be made into mud. Girls started walking in the mud to break down the dirt to make it as smooth as possible. Seeing how much fun this looked, I quickly jumped into the mud pile and was allowed to step in the mud for about 2 hours, living out my childhood dreams. When I was over doing that, I moved on to bigger and better things; I got to put the mud in the frame. My obvious lack of experience in the area showed, so some of the students had to guide me. By the end of the day, they were all impressed with my stellar job.

New house nearly completed

The thing that amazed me the most was the amount of effort and energy the students brought. This was a Saturday, their day off from work and school, and they voluntarily came to help this poor old women. They did not stop working, and the breaks were short and minimal. It was also really wonderful to see these students outside of a classroom setting. Since I teach math to many of them, it was great seeing them in a different setting. They were laughing and joking most of the time and tried to have a good time in the process of performing a good deed. They were able to let loose and forget about the pressures of upcoming midterms and class work, and just be kids for the time being.

While building a house is an unforgettable experience for a girl from Boston, it was definitely the students who made it more memorable and so far the highlight of my trip. I can only hope that as my stay here continues, I will be able to participate in more activities such as this, and that the students will also be a part of it.”-Naomi Plasky, USA

Naomi and Jane mixing concrete

Ronald, a Hope Academy student building the walls

Granny Berna at the old dilapidated house