Sunday, November 22, 2009

Organizing and Managing the build

Bringing over two thousand volunteers and workers to Chiang Mai for a week long construction project is a complex process. Habitat did a phenomenal job of organizing this event. The event took over a year to plan and organize and you could see the results. One of the reasons that we had such a great time was that a lot of attention was given to details and the Habitat team had gone the extra mile to ensure that all of us were comfortable during our stay here.

The build site was about 30 minutes from the city. Volunteers were staying at several different hotels. Several buses departed from each hotel every few minutes depending on the number of volunteers staying at a hotel. A police escort was available for the buses to ensure that we reached the site within 30 minutes. There was an army of Thai students who were available as a support team for the volunteers. It seemed like they were everywhere and always available when you needed somebody for information or directions.

Habitat went to great lengths to ensure the comfort and safety of the volunteers. For example, they knew that everybody would be dead tired after the first day of the build. Hence, dinner was scheduled at the hotel where we were staying at so that we did not have to travel after a long day of work. For the rest of the week, they had planned different experiences for dining and entertainment. There was something for everyone during each day of our stay in Chiang Mai. Breakfast at each hotel was served beginning at 5:30am in order to accommodate our work schedules. What was amazing was that somebody went to the trouble to make sure that breakfast was served at 5:30am on Saturday as well so that volunteers who were scheduled to depart early in the morning could have their breakfast at the hotel before leaving for the airport.

During the work day, there was an unlimited supply of water, cold drinks, sodas and snacks. A massive dining tent was setup to handle 500-600 diners simultaneously. All of us were assigned a different shift for our lunch breaks. Habitat had even setup a separate tent for social networking to allow volunteers to blog, tweet or update their facebook pages with latest news and photos.

Thanks to Habitat's careful and meticulous planning of the build event, every volunteer had a safe and fun experience.


Nandini said...

Hi Pervez, it's very interesting to read about the Habitat initiative. A similar thing is done in Amritsar, India every year where all Sikhs come together to build their Gurdwara, the Golden temple. Though I am not sure if there are any religious constraints. It's a heartening sight to see the hardwork they put in! Considering they are not as educated and lucky as the city folks, the unity and the spirit is commendable...hefty, strong surds, n they sure channelise their strength really well..:-) just thought i'll plug in this info as it's about very own India :-)

Hope u enjoy the rest of ur trip as well!

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