Day five.

Finally our intercession had to end. And there was no one in the entire group who was not upset about it. But, we still had our final Act of commitment presentation. I partnered with Molly, Chelsea, Gabrielle and Nelson, so we could come up with a much bigger idea and can impact broadly.

 Our commitment was simple, “help the one who needs help”. We designed beautiful bead bracelet for every single one of us who were on the trip along with their initials on it. The whole idea behind these bracelets was to be aware every single day, what your duty is. The bracelet had the saying, “raise the roof” which meant to help a person in someway or the other so he/she can have a roof on top of their head.
These bracelets will also create a sense of curiosity amongst other people who will notice it and if asked, we would proudly edify them about the great work we did during the intercession and hopefully they get inspired and do them same. And also by talking to them they will free more secure and open up themselves to their ideas and we would off course help and support them with complete dignity.
We also decided as a group that every month we would make at least on trip to any homeless shelter and will be helpful to them in one way or the other. I also my own person commitment, which i am attaching the file to.
I have been in college for three years now and I NEVER had any class similar to this. The experience I got out of it, the social awareness, people I met, friends I made etc are things I would never be able to get by sitting in a class every other for two hours. The entire experience changed me as a person and changed my perspective about homelessness and poverty.
Proud to be a rollins student.

Day four.

As they say that all good things have to come to an end and so did our intersession. But I believe it wasn’t really an end, it was more of a new beginning to go out and make lives better. We all were so glad that we got to sleep in but thanks to out facilitators for taking us  for breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

It was a long ride back but worth it for the event we had next. And an  hour break when we arrived gave us sometime to go drop our luggages and have lunch. But there was no person in the group who was not excited about the Coalition for the homeless. The drive up to Orlando was pretty devastating because when we were on the division ave I was shocked how we saw that one side was fully industrialized and had the best buildings in town, such as the Amway center, the Magic stadium etc and one side you see poverty and slums and people with the look of hope and help on their face. And that kinda made me felt very bad how the system looks at the community as “the other people”.
The Coalition center was pretty interesting as we walk by and saw the room where people sleep every night and how the lines were drawn as if it was a parking lot. It gave me a feeling that the king size bed I sleep is enough for three people and made me more aware of what our society is facing. But it was nice how  the lady in-charge gave us a brief tour of the  center  and we were pretty amazed how they handle all the social problems like homelessness, child care, poverty etc.
The best part was when we helped the kids make jewelry out of beads and it was my first time doing it and it turned out to be pretty well. I was all into helping them make it and the happiness you see on their face is worth no money. I put all the effort I could even though it was my first time making it and everybody was impressed. I remember the time where back in India I made people make my jewelry exactly how I wanted and today when I was asked to make something how other people wanted, was pretty different and now I felt exactly how the worker would have felt when I was demanding. Everybody was pretty impressed and blessed who got a chance to help and make jewelry for people who can’t afford it.
I hope this experience continues and every single one of us  contributes in some way or the other towards the society and make it better.

Day Three.

Today was our last day on site and we all were beyond excited and ready to finish the roof. We were on site on time and after putting on proper safety gear, we started right off where we left a day before.
The pace of work was pretty fast compare to yesterday. The amount of work we had to finish today was pretty challenging but we all knew we would get it done at any cost. All the trusses were put on the top and every single person had individual tasks to do and at some point the atmosphere around the site seemed like an actual construction site with almost single person had a hammer in their hand. The tough time came when we had to put a nail in every single empty  spot. Palm nailers helped a lot and got the work done pretty quick. It was amazing how we looked at the roof after it was all done and the sense of feeling you get from it was priceless. It was not just getting a job done but it was about contributing to provide a shelter for someone who is not as fortunate as one of us.
We had an opportunity to sit and eat with the homeowner Nina. And after hearing what she had to say, we felt more proud of building a roof for such a great person. She lives her life as an example and how she fought for her rights with the home shelter people and finally they approved her loan and the house she wanted. I also appreciate her patience as she talks about waiting forever for the construction to begin. But the main appreciation goes to Habitat for humanity who actually cared and were generous enough to help Nina. Living in a house feels much secure than living in an apartment. Now her kids will a backyard to play and will hopefully not be switching schools.
This experience I personally had over the period of just 48hours was something I would have never got in any of my other class. But we are still not done and looking forward for upcoming experience.

Day two.

Second day and it was a big day. First day of work. We started out early around 8 o’clock after having breakfast at the hotel. When we arrived at the site, unfortunately the roof trusses were still on its way so we had about an hour and a half free time. And all thanks to the facilitators who took us to the beach instead of brining it back to the hotel. We all had a great time on the sand. People were collecting sea shells, playing group games and getting along with each other pretty well which really helped later on at the work site.

We went to the site after we got a call that the materials were delivered. The site supervisor,Dave and the constructor Charlie gave us a brief talk about why they are doing it,how the habitat for humanity housing works and about house loans and lifestyle and stuff, I think it was very great of Charlie to do that as it answered many questions of curiosity which were in my mind. All the safety instructions were properly given and everybody abided to those. I liked how the work needed both strength and team involvement. Majority of the guys were working on the top which required strength to nail the trusses in their proper position and rest of the group worked in the bottom which required them to lift the trusses up. The site instructors were very helpful and answered every question we had. Even though we messed up several times, they never got mad on us or even gave us a bad look for a second. This tells a lot about the Habitat for humanity and every single person who works there. The work was pretty good and we were impressed how we finished half the roof in just five hours. After that we went back to the hotel and relaxed in the pool for a while and got ready for the evening activity.
Our evening activity was to go out and meet a few homeless people. And I would not have enough words to write about what I felt in this blog. The experience was just eye opening and change my perspective completely. There were few homeless people talking in front of us who were either homeless because of their skin color or their sexuality or just by their bad fortune. The sorry which stoked me the most was James’s story. He was in prison for TWENTY THREE years from the age of FOURTEEN. This was pretty shocking for me but every one makes wrong choices at some point of their life. But the great thing is that he got out and changed himself and now fighting for his right. But as obvious, the system and the government, and the specially people themselves are the obstacles. It was nice of our facilitators who took all of the people out for dinner and made them feel like they belong to human kind even though it was just for one day. I was sitting right next to James and chance to have a conversation and ask questions which we didn’t had enough time to do in the prior meeting.
I always had this question throughout the night that, why? Why do we have homeless people?  America has 3.5 million people homeless every year and spend 102 million dollars on ONE fighter aircraft which I don’t believe will ever gonna be fighting actual wars.  Why do people not see that a homeless is exactly the same as themselves, only difference is one got roof on their top and one don’t.  Why is it when a person gets punished for what mistake he made and rather than giving up, he is letting everything go and want to start a new life with good intensions and his background history doesn’t make him qualify for any job?, Why does a lady gets raped within 24hours of her being homeless and she can’t go to the law because she is not “technically homeless”? Why is that a homeless person was set on fire while he was sleeping on a public bench for no reason ?and Why is it that a grandmother, feeds her grandchildren who are about two and five the food which she picked up right from the trash in and I am sitting and watching them eat and can’t to do anything about it? The day these questions will be answered, then america would be called the greatest nation in the world.  Till then we can do what we can do to make these people’s lives better at a micro level. Talk to. Them,  engage them,  smile at them, make them feel like there are one of us.

Day one.

Today was our first day at the intersession and it completely changed my perspective about how I thought about poverty. The book did a good job and opened mu eyes for various issues we face in this world. But i think experiencing them in person and sharing your ideas and believes with others in group is the best way to address these problems and see now we can eliminate them.
I liked how we started out the day with some interesting activities which broke the “awkward barrier” within the group members and people started expressing their views and ideas more as they were slowly and slowly getting to know each other. Facilitators did a good job with that.
The most interesting activity we did for the day according to me, was to grocery shop under certain amount of budget. I think that not only taught us about money management but also about sacrifices or to put it better, cheaper alternative. There was no single member in the group who wanted to get his/her favorite food but due to so less budget, they had to turn it down. We had 50$ to spend for one meal and we barely met that. This greatly impacted everyone when we sat after dinner and thought about it. It’s kinda shocking how an average citizen of the world lives under 1$/day and we take all our everyday meals for granted. But it was a nice of the facilitators to put us in the shoes of those people and make us realize the global issue of poverty the world is facing.
The main motive behind this intersession is to make us aware and aware enough so that we could go out and make a difference and I think we see lot of potentials amongst our group and we will keep on influencing others too.
Looking forward to the on site work tomorrow.