Get­ting off the beaten track in Ar­gentina

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABADIA

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.

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