Back when I was a 15-17 year old, I helped my family help a friend who ran a foundation. Large companies were donating and throwing out these Estibas (wooden pellets) so we got a hand of a whole bunch of them, and thought of a way to use them. She proposed building a couple of houses for a few promising or needing families down there. We built one small one (5x5x2.5 meters) and donated that to a needing family (cost about $500USD total for the cement, tar paper, and chicken mesh, iron reinforcements and plumbing/electricity with recycled nails and wood). One guy who helped us build it was impressed and decided to build a two floor building (immediately tearing down his old place and building his one with our help). It was refreshing, because the family we built the shack for weren't grateful - and careless. Tools went missing, parts of the house would dissapear... it was discouraging.. and it didin't show much promise.
The guy and his family whom we tried to help had his 7th child with his wife by casearian, who then had to walk up 250 stairs each day to and from the hospital; and on top of that, they were evicted that week, and he was a drug addict and alcoholic who worked on the streets (and thus stole and sold parts of that house for the habits). Only 5 years later after my world trip did we return to his house and found him to have his life completely turn around - cleaned up, sobered up.. and then he pulled his weight to help us extend and finish up and fix up his house that we gave him. It was a beautiful thing to see making the hard cold work worth it.
A year or so later, another foundation in a large church decided to start a big project of the such - inspired by what we did. I then helped my family and the other sister foundation to promote the project for funding and a volunteer workforce (about 15 people). This animation was a result for the promotion, and they showed it to a congregation of about 500 people. In short time we had enough funding to begin construction, and a team of vounteers to help us build it.
So we built this house over 3-5 months (much faster than the others, which were year projects with maybe a single work day weekly or biweekly). We managed maybe 2 work days a week on this projects, with extra help - some volunteers stayed helping through it all. It was hard work, because this house was a lot larger than we had planned.
It was a success though, in the end. Having built a 12x7x4.5 meter 4 bedroom house in the same technique as the former, with a very grateful family who fed us as we built it.
They were projects that changed my life - and helped me realize what I wanted to do (not volunteer work, nor construction, but creative group work nonetheless yes and animation to promote ideas).
It helped spur my animation ambitions.
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