The two weeks I spent with Habitat China in Yunnan was actually the best March Break I have ever had. We experienced the culture, we connected with the local people and we helped make the world a better place.
When we first arrived at the building site, I was shocked by how far the villagers live from the town. It took us about 30 minutes by bus and another 30 minutes of hiking in order to get to the village. It was pretty obvious that the help from non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity improved the quality of life for the villagers a lot, but there was still a long way to go. They had a great basketball court and even a classroom for kids, but some of the villagers still lived in old wooden houses. The children from the village told me that the nearest school was 2 hours away, so most of them boarded at school during the week and came home on weekends. A lot of young adults went to cities for work, so there were mostly children and elders living in the village.
It was my first time doing construction work and it was not as easy as it may seem. We separated into two different groups, one was digging trenches and the other one was working with concrete. For the concrete group, we needed to shuffle the sand and rocks in a certain spot then mix them all together. And for the trenches group, we needed to use pickaxes and shovels to dig 80cm. All the construction took a lot of hard work and teamwork, but it was still a lot of fun. The family that we were building the house for also worked with us. The husband was really small but very strong. He worked with us when we were digging the trenches. His wife prepared lunch for us everyday. They didn’t talk a lot with us probably because of the language barrier, but they were really friendly.
I have been living in China for almost my whole life, but the parts of China that I am familiar with are big cities, like Beijing and Shanghai. I certainly know that there are a lot of poor people in China, but this was my first time being in such a poor village. I am really glad I went on this trip, I am now more aware that my home country still has a lot of areas that need help. It is also a pity that most of the kids in the big cities in China don’t have a chance to experience what rural China is really like. I would encourage anyone to go on a Habitat for Humanity trip!
Theresa Li ’16