Post Project Publications
Defying the heat so a village has water
Ray Fowell and his team went to one of the hottest, driest parts of India, Rajasthan, at one of the hottest times of the year: May. Despite temperatures reaching 50C, they worked full days to ensure a water-retention structure got built.

Here is Ray's perspective.

Rajasthan, Udaipur, Bargatua Kella, May 2016.

Unless you have been there, unless you have experienced the heat and seen the dry arid land, it is hard to imagine how the village farmers exist in Rajasthan. Having been there and seen it, I still find it hard to imagine.

They rely on one precious source provided by Mother Nature, but only if she feels like it. Rajasthan sits at the tail end of the monsoons. They race up from the south sometimes causing havoc on their way, but as they get further north they curl to the west over the parched lands of Rajasthan depositing the remnants of a once powerful storm.

In 2014, there was very little rainfall, followed by a very poor 2015. Not enough to re-charge the wells that support the villages and irrigate the land. The life source depended on by the farmers is currently in short supply while they hope for a better result in 2016.

When the rain comes, it rushes across the land so fast there is no time for the water to seep into the earth and reach down to replenish the water table and the wells. This is where a sub-surface dam comes into its own, holding back the water long enough for it to be of use to villagers and farmers alike.

Having had the privilege of working alongside the local people of Bargatua Kella, with a team of volunteers from DWC, having seen the smiles and laughter, the anticipation and hope that this dam will bring them the water they so need and deserve, after all the hard work that has been put into this project, I have no doubt this was the trip to be part of.

If not only for the fantastic hospitality, the many laughs created through a non-common language, the songs, the dance, the many visits to villagers homes to meet their family to drink their chai and eat their snacks, the smiling faces, the colour of the women's saris, the hard work put in by everyone in the village to reach a common goal, if not only for that, then the fact that these beautiful people may have a better year after the monsoon, water for their wells and crops in their fields, all because a team of international volunteers appeared in their village, willing to pitch in and help them build a dream.

And what do the volunteers gain from this experience? Unimaginable memories, new friends, a greater understanding of life outside their comfort zone, the chance to travel to parts of the world tourists will never see, and some they will. To be part of the change, to try something new, gain experience, develop skills, improve their career prospects, build confidence. The list is endless and the only way to find out what it will do for you is to go do it.

Thank you Developing World Connections for allowing me to be part of it. 

Ray's trip to Rajasthan, India, resulted in a village being able to grow more crops thanks to the water-retention structure he and his team helped build. This year, (2017) he's going with DWC to Nepal to make a difference there. Get the details here, then join him! 

Building in the midst of a storm 

Veteran Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and Global Village (GV) team leader, Ray Fowell shared with Habitat for Humanity Philippines how his 20th building activity at Paypay, Daanbantayan in Cebu was unique and truly memorable.

Midway through Ray’s GV teams build, Typhoon Hagupit (local name: Ruby) struck the island of Daanbantayan, and their game plan needed to be changed. With the goal to transform lives at the core of the team’s vision, but with the restriction of not being safe to continue construction work, Ray’s GV team continued to work hard by providing relief goods to families in the area.
How was this experience different to other GV builds you’ve volunteered with?
“Well, I think the fact that we don’t always have to contend with a Typhoon descending upon us halfway through the build would be a good place to start. All projects are very similar, different location, different building materials, different language. The ground is always hard and the digging harder. The thing that makes the biggest difference is the people.

The fact that there were local children around most of the time also added to the experience. I believe the kids can make or break a build, they are the next generation. We may be building for their parents but it is these kids who are the future and I also believe they get as much out of interacting with us as we do from them.

On a technical issue, I must say that this build in Daanbantayan was the most organized I have worked on. To have plans, drawings and an engineer on-site was unprecedented…It made a pleasant change to see how organized this site was.

What was involved in the actual program conducted?
It was unfortunate that we were disrupted by Typhoon Hagupit, but the team pulled together and once it had passed, joined the relief efforts in packing food parcels…Every one of them wanted to be a part of this exercise and would have done far more if they could.

What was different from this building activity in the Philippines from the previous ones?
I think everyone gets something different from each project. It changes lives, makes some people reflect on their own existence. Everybody takes away something from these events. The fact that these people come back time and time again, raise funds or pay directly from their own pocket, take themselves out of their comfort zone and use what little vacation time they may get, to work in an environment that is so far removed from their everyday life, to labor in the heat and humidity that they are unused to, says so much about what they take from it.

Any other learning’s you and your teams have gained from this building activity despite being caught in the middle of a potential Super Typhoon?
This was my first build in the Philippines and hope it will not be the last…I spent many years living a selfish and materialistic lifestyle until I decided to change that, and working on these projects, being able to give something back reinforces in me why I do what I do. I get great satisfaction in knowing that I in some small way have affected someone else's life, hopefully for the better. And not only the home owners and the community, but also the team members. I want them to take something from the experience and promote the cause whether that be in their home town or encouragement to others to take up the GV challenge. I am sure they also take home a greater understanding of the lives of the people they help, I know I do. And that is what drives me to build teams and take on projects wherever they are in the world. It is the people, the kids and the team that makes the package complete. 

As a veteran volunteer and Global Village team leader, Ray Fowell plays an active role in being a catalyst for change.


Developing World Connections

Water means life in India

A while ago, we included a posting from Ray Fowell, who led a team to the parched Rajasthan area of India last May. They toiled in up to 50C heat to build this unassuming concrete and rock water-retention structure in the dry riverbed beside a small village.

As you can see in the photos above, their hard work paid off. The structure held back enough monsoon rainwater that it soaked into the underground aquifer instead of running off the land. That, in turn, recharged five wells in the area so more crops could be grown.

The benefit of all this was that 25 tribal families have a better food supply and more crops to sell to improve their subsistence income.

Ray's team not only worked hard, they celebrated the project with the locals (300 villagers from the area came out!) and shared some fantastic moments and memories.


Ghana Africa and the story of the Fractured leg
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