Eighteen foreign professionals took part for a fortnight, till Friday, in the construction of houses for two poor persons at Bajhera, a nondescript village in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district, experiencing the rigours of the countryside and winning the hearts of villagers. The Habitat for Humanity-India had recently sanctioned loans on easy terms for building brick houses for the below poverty line families living in huts and mud structures in the district. For a partner to implement the project, it selected Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation, a philanthropic organisation working in the district for the past two decades.

The Lupin Foundation chose two beneficiaries, Vijay Singh and Tej Prakash, of Bajhera on the Bharatpur-Achhnera road. The foreigners, who offered to help them out, comprised retired teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, accountants and students from the U.S., Britain, and Japan.

The villagers were surprised by the gesture of the professionals, who, after travelling long distances, carried stones and bricks to the construction site, dug up the earth, prepared building materials and helped masons and labourers. Cairolo, a retired nurse from the U.S., is happy to have helped the poor, making a small contribution to the construction of the houses. “My desire to bring about a change in the life of a poor man has been fulfilled after coming to India.”

For physician Leinen Crock, this is her second visit to India; she considers it a blessing to get an opportunity to serve the poor. Retired engineer Barack Renchie had earlier served the tsunami victims in Kerala, but it is a rare experience to help build houses for persons without roof over their heads.

Financial assistance has been made available for the construction of 80 low-cost houses and repairs to 200 houses in the district, says Lupin Foundation executive director Sita Ram Gupta. Twenty houses have been constructed and more than 100 repaired.

The foreigners returned to Bharatpur on Friday after major portions of the two houses were built. Mr. Gupta points out that students from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Sharjah and Japan had earlier visited different villages in the district for similar work.

The humanitarian act seems to have etched a deep impression on both the sides. For the villagers, it was an occasion to admire the dignity the group accorded to labour and witness real action inspired by sympathy for the poor. The foreigners were satisfied after making a small contribution which they believed would transform the lives of villagers.

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