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February 7 - 20, 2010

This Habitat for Humanity India project site was a small agricultural village called Monayampettai located a few miles north of Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu.

Pondicherry is a former French colony and attracts some Europe tourists but very few venture into the county side. In Monayampettai there were a number of residents who had not seen a foreigner close-up and were a bit unsure of what we were doing and why we were there for the first couple of days. After they got use to us, we all had a wonderful time mixing with the locals both at the work sites and other village activities.

The village depends entirely on agriculture. Most of the houses were mud walled with thatched roofs. All had electricity (supplied by the government) but often only a single light bulb was included. Only a few houses had running water and even fewer had toilets. Habitat was able to arrange for the use of a single squat toilet for the 40+ volunteers for the two weeks we were there and that was much better than the villagers had.

The Team was made up of fourteen Canadians originating from Ontario, Alberta and BC.  We were joined by a group of 30 Japanese Students and their supervisors. In the middle of the build we spent a weekend visiting some local attractions including the Natraja Temple at Chidambaram (60km south of Pondicherry), the Pitchavaram mangrove forest just outside of Chidambaram and Auroville, an experimental settlement about 15km North West of Pondicherry.

We worked on three houses that had been partially build by the Government but funding had run out before they could be completed. Habitat for Humanity India and an Indian NGO called Rural Education and Action for Liberation joined together to complete the houses. We also worked on the start of a new house which was a Habitat project.

Following the build we spent two days in Mamallapuram a seaside town about 60km south of Chennai. Mamallapuram has a nice beach, many ancient temples and a crocodile farm - the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Centre for Herpetology. I also spend a few days in Chennai and area doing some touring.

To make it easier to review the photos I have divided them into nine categories with links to the thumbnail as follows:
                   The Build                People
                   The Team               R&R
                   The Village              Mamallapuram
                   Pondicherry            Transportation

 For more information on Habitat for Humanity click on the following links:
                    Habitat Canada & Habitat Global Village
                    Habitat India