Volunteer Vacation Day Three: More Dirt, More Mud

On day three we found we were being moved to a new site for another family close by to the one we had been working with the first two days. This new home was being built from the ground up, but we were coming in with a significant portion of the framing done. The home would belong to a doctor, his wife and 16 year-old son along with the parents of either the doctor or the wife. It became a little unclear and confusing at times how much extended family resided in anyone household in Tajikistan. The part about Habitat Global Village builds I enjoy most is the interaction with the families on the worksite, but the doctor was often at the office, the wife seldom around and the son actually helped out quite a bit when school was out. That day we would be making and mixing mud. Sort of.

All of the women in our group got pretty excited when we heard we would be making mud and mixing mud. We were certain this was the part of the build were we would detox our achy limbs by accidentally getting mud on our arms and legs during the process, but to our surprise and slight disappointment we were not granted the rights to play in the mud. Instead we would fetch water in buckets once more to pour over the dirt and straw that would later get tossed in. Once the straw became part of the equation I don’t really think anyone was dying to jump in. I imagined developing a nasty looking rash from the foreign materials and what my customs form might look like on the way back into the U.S.

U.S. Customs Form: Have you spent any time on farms, pastures, agricultural lands or with any foreign livestock?

My Response:
Of course not. I just rolled and tossed around in Grade-A Tajikistan hay.

So my volunteer vacation continued being more of a construction boot-camp than a spa excursion with detoxing-mud treatments. I was cool with that. My body was starting to adjust to the physical labor and I could barely feel pain anymore. Second to creating mud we had to shovel dirt into buckets and fill in the hole that would later become the front porch. Neither task was exactly easier than other in the blazing dry heat. Throughout the day we took many water breaks which gave us time to joke with our onsite volunteers/translators (Khushvakhtullo and Khurshed) and probe them for useful Tajik or Russian phrases. Beyond the language the entire group was eager to learn more about the families. And little by little we learned more and more. Aside from our small cultural lessons and unfaltering efforts day three on the worksite was slightly uneventful in regards to anything shocking. Once we filled the porch and the mud and straw had been mixed our day was done. Tomorrow all that mud would go up right onto the roof!