Can’t top that smile. :-)

Just last week I posted an update detailing a Global Village trip with Habitat for Humanity to Kyrgyzstan during August 2014.  You can read more about how our team helped to make Jolboldu’s dream of owning a safe and decent home for his family here.

This morning I got the final piece of the puzzle – photos of Ryskiul hosting her welcome/New Years party in her new home! What a great way to ring in 2016. 🙂



Best wishes to you and your family as you celebrate the holidays too!



A Home for the Holidays (and Beyond!)

What great news I received this week – Jolboldu and his family moved into their brand new Habitat for Humanity home two weeks ago!  They are excited beyond words…and so am I!!!  How did this happen and what makes it so exciting?  Ah…read on. 🙂

I first “met” this family when I began planning a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Kyrgyzstan.  Yes, that’s right, Kyrgyzstan.  I had heard good things about this place, it was a “unique” destination (to say the least) and I am always up for a challenge so I thought – let’s go!

Imankulov Jolboldu and his wife Ryskiul live with their children in Barskoon village near Lake Issyk Kul (a beautiful place!).  Jolboldu works in the town administration.  Ryskiul cares for the children during the day and earns extra income for the family as a night watchman at the local pharmacy.  They were living in a home that is very old and deteriorating –  irreparable cracks in the walls and roof are constantly expanding.  It is also quite small for the family and to make matters worse, only one of the two rooms is heated.  Here are some photos of the house where the family lived in for 10+ years:


Jolboldu and Ryskiul desired a safer place for their children to grow up and applied for a loan from Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan  under their New House Construction Program.  When I arrived in Kyrgyzstan in August 2014 with 10 other volunteers, we were the 4th Global Village team to work on this home.

02-IMG_0391We spent two weeks doing what we could to bring their dream of owning a safe home closer to reality.  The home is different in many ways than others I worked on during previous Global Village trips.  For one thing – there was wood. 🙂  Kyrgyzstan is in an earthquake zone and housing recipients are trained in building techniques designed to withstand the forces of nature.  Walls in Habitat homes in Barskoon are constructed by affixing wood strapping to each side of the studs and then filling the ~6 inch gap in between with a mud-straw mixture (a different technique is used in the urban areas of the country’s capital, Bishkek – a subject for a future post).

Our first task was to complete the exterior walls.  Jolboldu was an expert at the pitchfork-mud-throw technique…and under his tutelage, Tony soon became an expert too.  The rest of us relied on the more traditional “mudball stuffing” method. 🙂


05-IMG_0441After about 2 days, we finished the exterior walls and thought we were really getting ahead!  But not so fast…the interior walls needed stuffing next.  Oh my!

We were undaunted…and very safe.  Don’t worry Terry, there’s only about a 10 foot drop under your round-barrel scaffolding.  Jolboldu won’t let you fall!  We also recruited extra help from every extended family member who stopped by the worksite.   Well, it was more like we couldn’t keep them away, they were so excited. 🙂  How does she stay so clean when I have mud in my hair, in my mouth, even on the inside of my glasses…???


By the time Pat and Julie placed the final mud ball, we all felt like we had accomplished so much!  And Ryskiul, who was sidelined with a broken arm while we were working, was all smiles. 🙂 🙂  I mean who wouldn’t be – the walls were complete, the roof was going on and check out the view from the bedroom!


We still had a few work days left and spent them installing the concrete floor.   If you’ve never participated in a bucket brigade, you’re missing out.  We passed buckets of sand, leveled the base layer, laid insulating foam and a waterproof barrier, then passed what must have been thousands of buckets of concrete.  OK.  Maybe just a few hundred, but it really did seem like a lot…  The floor was finally leveled and – wow, it’s starting to look like a home!

14-IMG_2047By the time we said goodbye, Jolboldu and Ryskiul were much closer to moving in.  They are incredibly kind and we each left a little piece of our heart with them in their new home.


19-IMG_2014In two weeks, we were able to make great progress and met the goals we had for ourselves, but there was still much to do. We left Kyrgyzstan knowing that there was a good chance the house would not be complete before the winter. Two additional teams came but there was simply too much to finish before the cold set in. The family would have to wait a little longer…

And this brings us back to where I started – over the summer, the finishing touches were added and as of two weeks ago, Jolboldu and his family are living in their new home!  Here are some photos of the finished home in all of it’s glory…stay tuned for updates and pictures of this wonderful family at home after New Years Day! 🙂