Volunteering with EPIC Homes
Something about honest hard work in my six days stint with social enterprise Epic Homes felt rewarding. I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to return for my second build. The phrase ‘help yourself by helping others’ pretty much sums up what I had experienced in Kelantan. I have accumulated innumerable of positive experiences from this project that I could not possibly list them all down. Sometimes when we get lost in our quotidian chores and responsibilities, we tend to get disconnect with the community. We take simple pleasures for granted or is aware that there’s more to life than just Starbucks and Facebook. EPIC Homes help bridge that gap by providing inexperienced volunteers an opportunity to build homes for the rural dwellers.
The project I’ve signed up for is located in Kampung Serasa, Kelantan. Eight hours of bus ride from KL and 45min of rocky lorry commute into a secluded area, we found ourselves in a small quiet village. A village that will have 14 new flood resistant homes to replace the ones that was washed away by last year’s flood.
To be a part of an awesome community project and witness a house being erected from the ground up – priceless. For both builds, I got to work with floor team. Being in a team consisting majority of women, I had no issue getting all fussy about the planks. Every time we lay a plank down and assess its finishing, we would discuss as a team if we were happy with it or opt for a better plank. We fought with tooth and nail to get these wood align the best we can. These girls had no clue how overjoyed they made me when they cared and played along with me when it came to giving the best we can. As a result, we could not be any happier with ourselves at the final product. Once that is complete, we started working on the foyer, stairs and walls, sequentially.
EPIC did a splendid job churning out good master builder and supervisors. They knew how to guide, facilitate and split the work among teammates. Good leaders naturally result in high morale teams. For the floor team, we had Uncle Boey, a funny retiree that was easy to work with. We were given space to make mistakes instead of fearing of making any. A huge chunk of the volunteers were first timers, and making mistake was the fastest track one could hop on to master anything quickly. The rule of thumb is to look at the mistakes as lessons and learn from them. A piece of advice I constantly dish out to my fellow teammates in my second EPIC stint.
I will not lie, it’s labour work under the hot sun, but we are allowed rest as and when we require it. It’s not a boot camp as the organizer regularly remind us. To me, it’s a fun kind of labour work, as you get to make awesome new friends, learn how to use various type of power tools and learn how to solve problems on the fly. I had an enjoyable time trying out various power tools ranging from jig saw, drop saw, impact drivers and circular saws. My fear of heights was constantly being tested as well as I had to work on bare steel structure and move between floors via the scaffoldings.
The facilities and food sponsored by Prudential – surpassed anyone’s expectation when it came to living it rough. It felt more like glam camp than it was camping to me. We had constant access to water, cool drinks, snacks and food. Sleeping arrangement was comfortable and spacious. We have mobile lavatory equipped with sink and mirrors, much like the ones you would see in a mall. By dusk, we have various sort of entertainment along with those brought by the volunteers.
All in all, I have definitely enjoyed myself and would return back again.