Getting off the beaten track in Argentina
Two Epsom friends have signed up for a holiday with a difference.
Aditi Kumar and Carishma Yeleswaram will travel to Argentina in November with 18 other Habitat for Humanity volunteers to help build two houses in a poor suburb of Buenos Aires.
Kumar started volunteering at the Auckland branch of the non-profit organisation while studying towards a masters degree in architecture at the University of Auckland in 2013.
The 23-year-old says the trip will not only enable her to interact with another culture, but also put her technical skills to good use.
‘‘Since high school
I’ve always been involved in humanitarian movements.
‘‘When I found out my interest in architecture could align with that kind of help, I was really excited.’’
They are hoping to stay two weeks, with the first week working on the build in Santa Fe village and the second on a trekking holiday in Patagonia.
‘‘We’ll be helping out with a local community development project where a series of houses are being built,’’ Kumar says.
‘‘It’s already been under way for a year and there will be people coming from all over the world to help.’’
Kumar is looking forward to rolling up her sleeves. The volunteers will be on site from 7.30am until about 5pm.
‘‘This is one of the first projects I’ll do where I’ll actually get to spend some time with the villagers.
‘‘I wrote my masters thesis project on a rural weaving community in India, so it will be nice to see another cultural perspective.’’
Habitat for Humanity is a great place to volunteer because the organisation is very people-oriented, Kumar says.
‘‘They have a genuine interest in the community they’re helping.
‘‘They target marginalised communities and the people whose houses they are building are very involved in the entire process.’’
Yeleswaram, who is a civil engineer, is also looking forward to the challenge.
‘‘Having done my engineering degree, I thought it’d be good to work on something which wasn’t just a big corporate building. It’s nice to give something back.’’
‘‘I read a bit about Buenos Aires and what the people are going through. I didn’t know in an urban area like that there were so many people who didn’t have proper housing,’’ the 23-yearold says.
Kumar is encouraging others to get involved in the project.
‘‘It’ll be a really good way to experience the country from the inside out as opposed to just observing it as a tourist.’’
Habitat for Humanity is still seeking volunteers for the Argentina trip. No previous building experience is necessary.
Aditi Kumar and Carishma Yeleswaram will spend a week in November volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Argentina.