STOP International Project 1 Summer 2006
On July 21 2006 20 volunteers, 15 under the age of 24, from Wilmslow, Leamington and Watford, travelled to India for two weeks to build a boys dormitory for an Orphanage. Originally the orphanage was built in 2002 to accommodate 35 children and was now in desperate need of additional space due a combination of currently 70 children in residence and new laws passed in the state of Tamil Nadu requiring boys over the age of 10 and girls to have completely separate living arrangements. The volunteers raised their own fares – just over £8000 – to travel to Hosur, near Bangalore to build a dormitory for the boys of the BESSO orphanage. In addition to funding their own airfares, they also raised the £10,000 needed to build the dormitory. Having worked for months raising funds through sponsored 24 hour badminton, swimathons, sponsored bike rides, they arrived in Bangalore on a British Airways flight to begin the construction.
The work began the day after they arrived, piling bricks around the foundation which was prepared for the volunteers in advance by the local building contractor. Human brick chains made easy work of this piling. Then the mortar had to be mixed by hand in barrow-loads. Under the expert guidance of the local ‘bricky’ the team gingerly started laying bricks, however it wasn’t very long at all before the principle of laying bricks – Indian style – was mastered and the walls began to rise surprisingly quickly. By the end of the second day the building resembled more like something to live in. By the end of the first five days even the local contractor was amazed at the achievement. In spite of minor distractions such as heat, bugs, a cobra, the lovely orphan children and more heat, the work progressed steadily. The target was to build the walls up to first floor lintel height before returning home. The local contractor would then complete the two storey building. Not only did the team meet this target but in addition concreted the ground floor of the whole building within the deadline.
What motivated the team members (made up of school pupils, university students, doctors and a nurse, most of whom had never laid a brick in their life) to work tirelessly to meet the deadline? The unanimous response from them all was the “orphan children”. Their uninhibited expression of love and happiness in a deprived lifestyle squeezed the commitment out from within every individual in the team.