Celebration caps Eagle County volunteers’ Habitat building trip
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2013
Editor’s note: This is the second of four articles about local Habitat for Humanity volunteers’ recent trip to Nepal.
EAGLE COUNTY – The celebration of the home dedication in Nepal helped us all understand that a real difference occurs through programs like Habitat for Humanity. After spending a week building a home to near completion, it felt good to work hard to the very end and then celebrate the contributions of so many volunteers and the accomplishments of the homeowner, Patali Tamang, and her family. A home dedication is the celebration of the work of the family and volunteers to complete the home and cut the ribbon to move in.
This was my first home dedication and it was one of the most emotional events I have taken part of. It wasn’t so much the act of the ceremony as much as the deep understanding of what this house, and our contribution to it, represents to this family. We were helping them create permanence in a home that will be in their family for generations. As the build week progressed and the house began to take form, it became clear that the family enjoyed having us there and that they appreciated the work that we were doing. We overcame language barriers together and there are often cultural differences in relationships.
On the very last afternoon, when I got to spend time with one of the daughters, I really saw the true value in what was accomplished. I discovered that it wasn’t only that we helped physically towards the completion of the home but that we truly cared that they had a solid and safe home in their lives.
One of Patali’s daughter-in-laws had watched us the entire week, somewhat tentative. On the last afternoon, she was working next to me to help paint the trim as part of our final day of work. During that time, I came to learn that she had been with her 20-year-old husband for three years and married for two. She was from a different village but moved to be with her husband, and she missed her family. She was able to express to me how much she enjoyed having us there and that she wanted us to come back.
I came to realize that anyone could have helped build their home. But the fact that our group traveled half way around the world to help them gave this young woman, and this family, the knowledge that people from everywhere care about them and want their family to have a solid home structure.
The home dedication ceremony was beautiful. The homeowner decorated the home with flowers in the window and balloons all around. The homeowner went around the circle and gave each of us volunteers flowers, fruit, a lei and tikka (a Hindu symbol of blessing). After she had decorated each one of us, she shared her words of thanks and gratitude as did the executive director of our local Habitat, John Welaj. It was inspiring to see the homeowner and John hold hands and share a symbolic, final moment of time together.
This home is something that the family is truly proud of and the whole experience left me completely humbled. After the dedication, all the volunteers and families joined together for music and dancing. We followed the band through the small village like a parade in order to celebrate our entire week. The home dedication was joyful and full of emotion. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the work we will leave behind us for this wonderful family in Kavre, Nepal.
Mikayla Curtis is the youth programs director for Eagle County for SOS Outreach.