Camille Cramer of Milo is a new appointee to the Maine Commission for Community Service. She is also a business major at UMaine and Resident Assistant. For spring break, she joined a group of students on an overseas volunteer service project and offered to report her experience.
March 2nd to March 16th I was privilege to travel to Kerala, India where I worked in a mountain tribe building bathrooms and water sanitation facilities.
Going with a group of 9 other college students from the University of Maine, we experienced much more than a vacation to a southern Asian rain forest. Living amongst the tribal members and growing accustomed to their traditions, rituals and ways of life is something that I will never forget, or would ever want to.
The culture experience and immersion was definitely by far one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had, landing me directly in the middle of a tribe that continually lived below the less than 2 dollars a day poverty line.
While there, my group was honored to build three different families three bathrooms. Construction of the buildings included carrying cement blocks, materials for plaster, mortar and cement, materials for paint, metal roofs, doors and accessories, and much more building materials up the side of the mountain – for where these families are located, no direct road leads to. Previously, the families – some of which including the elderly and very small children – were using the insect, snake and disease filled wilderness around them for their bathroom needs. Partnering with the local tribal masons, it took about 8 days for the three bathrooms to be built and the families were ever so grateful.
Many relationships and bonds were formed and leaving was a very somber event for everyone involved, especially the tribe that had taken care of us for the last two weeks. But for all who were involved, a new desire for global service has developed and I know I can speak for everyone when I say that this will not be the last international trip of service.
Camille is 5th from the left with her hand on the shoulder of a local host family.