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Constructing a safe future for Kerala's children.

By Marc Hunter and Susie MacGregor 3 years ago
Categories Kerala

Written by our incredibly motivated and enthusiastic volunteers Marc and Susie during GVI’s first week at Dil Se house, some 4 weeks ago. It is an ongoing project led by our excellent construction coordinator David, in close support with our friends and partner Dil Se

Today we had our first day on our construction project, renovating a run down building which belongs to an organisation called Dil Se, meaning ‘from the heart’. Originally it was bought by Dil Se to be used as a children’s home, going through several uses until recently becoming vacant and ready for its new use – to be a first point of contact for children (and parents) who wish to come forwards about instances of sexual abuse. The building was in a state of disrepair when we first arrived; a combination of the 2005 Tsunami, sea-air and priorities being put on the resident children.

We began by repairing the crumbly front of the house in the morning by sanding it down and scrubbing the moss away,stopping briefly for a fantastic feast from the homes caretaker Nazaru, before sorting through the mounds of tree cuttings in the afternoon for anything we could use to make a playground for the children. This also gave us our first shot at using a machete! The work is extremely sweaty and tiring, but will be well worth it in the end.

On the following morning we measured all the walls, windows, doors and floor space (inside and outside) so we could estimate how much paint we will need. We ended up with pages and pages of floor plans and calculations and in the end needed paint to cover just under 700 square metres! In the afternoon we continued to sand the walls of the front of the house and wash them down so they would be ready to paint. Incredibly sweaty work in 33 degree heat! Nazaru makes us ginger masala tea throughout the day (which is to die for) and offered another feast for lunch. We even managed to grab an opportunity to visit the picturesque beach opposite the front gate and eat our lunch.

One morning we decided to clear the garden area around Dil Se. Marc raked the sand and soil which had been cleared whilst I helped Dave clear the back of the house. My Mum won’t believe me, but I actually used my hands to pick up mounds of rubbish where spiders, centipedes, caterpillars, ants and geckos had made their homes. The neighbours were watching us and waving every time we looked up. I think they could tell how scared I was so they came over and gave me some chocolate which made the whole ordeal far better.

There is only us, along with our coordinator Dave, working on the house so it will take a while before we see real progress, but it’s great to know we are doing such a thorough and professional job of it. Then Nazaru, who could talk the trunk off an elephant, told us about his life one lunchtime. He is originally from Mumbai where he grew up in an orphanage, and became the cook for 300 boys! He has had a hard time recently, but luckily was offered to be the caretaker at Dil Se. He appears to really appreciate the company – trying his absolute best to make lunchtime last longer each day and cooking us up snacks throughout the day to encourage us to sit down and listen to his stories. We certainly aren’t complaining – his food is the best we have ever eaten, and its all vegetarian too!