Laying the Foundation for Recovery Together


Everybody deserves a safe place to live, a place called home.

That’s how our journey began. We wanted to help people in need. What we didn’t expect was what we were about to learn.

Through Habitat for Humanity, and with the support of the Netherlands Country Leadership board, we organized a trip to Biratnagar in the southeast of Nepal, 5 kilometers away from the Indian border. This community had been living in temporary shelters affected by floods and earthquakes. They were in dire need of our help.

11 of my Cisco colleagues from the Netherlands and I flew all the way from Amsterdam to Nepal to use our five Time2Give days to build homes for 30 families. We were full of energy, driven, super enthusiastic, and on a mission. We all had one common goal: Be the bridge to a safe home and community.

The Cisco volunteers from our Amsterdam office.
Azar with volunteers Leandros Talman, Aaron Williams, Aleksey Orlov, Charley Rousset, Liat Shentser, Frank Marsman, Andrea Palma, Christopher Van Der Made, Jari Pollanen, Marta Belles Solanes and Andres Jimenez Nanhekhan.
Everyone helped passed along endless concrete plates to build the foundation.
Everyone helped passed along endless concrete plates to build the foundation.
The new homes starting to take shape.
The new homes starting to take shape.

We knew it would be hard work. And we expected it to be difficult, but I had no idea what exactly we would be doing. I certainly didn’t consider the impact it would have on my own life. My only thought was the impact it would have on the local people.

For five days, we worked, laboring in average temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Farenheit). We carried bricks to create the walls of the houses, we mixed cement, and carried endless plates of concrete to build the foundations of what would become homes.

As the week continued, the community felt more relaxed around us, they shared their beautiful smiles and became more open with us. We had brought a soccer ball with us so we could play with them after work and during our breaks.

Kicking the ball around was the perfect way to get closer to them. We also played soccer with the women of the community; it was their first time ever playing. The game was total chaos, the ball flew from one side of the field to the other, nobody knew the rules, but everybody was happy and had fun. That’s what it was all about.

Bringing everyone together through the beautiful game of soccer!
Bringing everyone together through the beautiful game of soccer!

Bringing everyone together through the beautiful game of soccer!

Seeing the locals so happy doing something as simple as playing soccer, made me realize that happiness can be found in the smallest things in life. A soccer ball that brings people together, doing a little dance between two plates of concrete or sharing a meal together — we don’t need much to be happy.

After five days, saying goodbye was hard. The week had been an emotional rollercoaster, and it had affected us all beyond expectations.

As I look back at this amazing journey, I realize it forced me to appreciate the little things in life and made me a better person.

Our small group achieved the bridge to possible. Not only by building homes, but by fostering a connection with the local people and leaving them with a feeling of love, hope, and community.

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