We all woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel before our work day began. Breakfast usually consists of toasted tomato and cucumber sandwiches or toast with jam. This is because the restaurant at our hotel is all vegetarian, in fact almost the entire region is vegetarian or vegan.
We then broke into our 3 groups and all went to our different villages to begin construction. Our group consists of Josh, Kyra, Edith, Larry and Pam. The village we are working in is Vagdula, we went straight to the preschool and were greeted with chai and got to meet the children. There were 19 girls and boys under the age of 5. At first the children were scared when they saw us, a few even cried and our translator told us we were the first white people they have ever seen!
We had bindi dots placed on our foreheads and had pieces of string tied on our right wrists as a blessing for the work site. We were shown the outlines of where we were to dig and got right to work. The tools we used were a pick axe, bowls for moving sand and 2 shovels (they look like garden hoes but with a bigger base).
After digging for a while we had a break for chai and got to speak to some locals through a translator.They asked us what our occupations were back home and we learned that they were farmers, they grow wheat, peanuts and grains, After that it was back to digging until lunch.
After we had lunch we got to sit in the preschool with the children and sang songs for them (twinkle twinkle little star and itsy bitsy spider) some started to smile and follow our actions but others were still unsure.
We worked until 5 and got almost all of our holes dug, there is a U shaped trench right up against the preschool building where the walls around the squatter toilet will be and 2 round leech pit holes where all of the waste will go.
That evening we were brought to Rajsamand lake, where we were shown an old marble staircase that had to be 400 feet wide and 40 feet tall with amazing marble sculptures and columns placed throughout. We were told it took 3 generations to build! After that it was back to our hotel for dinner and we all packed it in early after our tiring first day.
When we reached the work site in the morning, it was straight to work making cement and soaking bricks. The cement was mixed on the ground with our shovels and consisted of sand, water and a powdered cement mixture. We had a mason working with us who did the measurements and instructed us to make sure everything was square.
At lunch time, we were invited to a local's house for lunch, we were seated on the floor on straw mats and she served us rice, naan, Dal (kind of like a lentil soup) and a dessert that looked like a timbit but was way sweeter. We have been amazed by how welcomed we are by everyone in the village and everyday new people from the village stop by the work site to watch the process and say hello. We have had lots of laughs and are very humbled by their lifestyle, seeing how people live here and how happy they are with what we would call nothing is so eye opening and we are so grateful for this opportunity.
Tonight we are looking forward to connecting with the other groups here and reflecting on the last couple days.
Talk to you soon!
Josh & Kyra
India, November 2012