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I feel privileged that this time I've been able to share
some of my accumulated knowledge in a place where it can benefit a
In October 2013, Troy Everett, head teacher of Building and
Construction, Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping at TAFE
Illawarra, volunteered to help with the construction of new
toilets in a remote village in one of the world's poorest
countries. What he encountered there left him "changed
forever". Following are excerpts from his journal.
The extreme rain had come at the worst time possible. The concrete
rings were a mess. Some of the guys were worried they wouldn't
maintain their watertightness.
While the pump was going, we went over the other site and did some
bamboo work and dug some drainage trenches. I also dug a slab for a
brick water tank they wanted me to build. I soon had a swathe of
people watching me work. Even though the materials were probably the
worst I had ever used, I felt comfortable utilising the skills I was
most experienced in.
After work we rode the motorbikes down to the river and we had at
throw of the boomerang and watched some kids play soccer.
The river was much higher and it was eerie as a beautiful sunset
turned the sky all shades of pink. In the background was the sound of
women making a strange wailing sound as they prayed in their small
shrines to the Hindu gods.
I'm over the rice! We've had it with every single meal. Kind of feel
obligated to eat it as the lady of the house has gone to the effort of
preparing it. Food has definitely been plentiful while here and the
hospitality very generous.
The bricks I laid yesterday looked good and I soon continued in the
very humid conditions. Before long I had half the village standing
around me and I enjoyed teaching a few of them some bricklaying skills.
The main bricklayer in the village, Moosni, was avoiding me. He's the
sort of guy who thinks he knows everything, so I've tried to build a
rapport where we can share ideas and techniques both ways. We did have
a little block laying competition, which was fun and I think I may
have surprised him as I tackled the tasks in a totally different way
to him. Both pieces of our work came up well.
That night a few of us went into Dinjapur on two motorbikes. The ride
there was absolutely gorgeous, roaring through many small villages
with a full moon over the rice paddies.
I saw they had some beers there called 'Hunter'. We grabbed one each
and went down an alleyway. The beers were quite good so we bought a
couple more for our last night here. It was a really dodgy business
behind these prison-like bars over a counter.
On the way home we stumbled across something amazing – wild discos
taking place in some massive fields. One had a mosh pit and another
had an area where they made their motorbikes dance with wheelies and
burn-outs. It was quite an experience, especially in the mosh pit
where we got mobbed.
The last day brings mixed emotions. I am looking forward to getting
home and catching up with loved ones (and eating some Aussie food).
But a part of me also wants to stay and see the project through to the end.
I was really pleased that we were able to get a lot of good work done
in the last few days here. I've learnt a lot and hopefully shared a
bit too. I also made some lifelong friends who I'm looking forward to
catching up with again some day.
I've loved learning about the Bangladeshi way of life and the
all-important agriculture. Nothing is wasted. Everything has a use.
Everyone has clearly-defined roles, but underlying all this there is a
great sense of happiness. I can also sense the locals' appreciation of
us coming here. They understand that we're giving our time and efforts
to try and help and learn off each other. They know we're choosing to
be away from our loved ones and all the privileges we'd usually enjoy.
I've been lucky in my involvement with WorldSkills. I've laid bricks
with the best in Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, London, Germany,
Denmark, Japan, Ireland, France and Brazil. But I feel privileged that
this time I've been able to share some of my accumulated knowledge in
a place where it can benefit a whole community.