Early 2010 I travelled to India as a volunteer for an Australian charity. http://www.40k.com.au.
I was project managing the construction of a new home and school for severely underprivileged kids. (Pic below...the hostel is named "The Banyan"). We finished it at the end of 2010 and donated the building to an Indian charity, http://www.lovedalefoundation.org, and I still try to visit the kids monthly.
The Banyan was built from mud bricks which we made on site and sun-cured, from the soil excavated for the basement. 70,000 of them! It's a totally ecologically sound building...minimal glazing to allow breezes in the hot Indian summers, solar hot water, solar electricity, rainwater capture, aligned on Vaastu Shastra principles (Indian Feng Shui).
And my favourite feature, huge grates at the entrance to allow rain into the basement garden that sits between 2 classrooms. Lots of fun in the Monsoon season!
Through that work, I met the head of a large property developing company who had started this project in partnership with the Bhutanese government, building the nation's first IT Park. They were having some problems and delays in this difficult-to-work-in area, and he asked me if I could try and help move things along. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
We have about 120 Indian workers on site, mainly masons, carpenters and general labourers. It's very difficult to get local workers in a country whose entire population is around 680,000. But the local stonemasons and traditional painters are highly skilled artisans.
It was only several weeks into the job that I saw the budget for landscaping and the difficulties of getting it done locally, so grabbed the opportunity myself. I left corporate management in Australia many years ago to become a horticulturist, turf manager and landscape designer, and ran my own company, so this project is a perfect blend of my business/horticultural experience. And an incredible life experience! Such a fascinating country, and a wonderful time to be here, just as it's carefully opening its boundaries to the rest of the world.
TV was only introduced here in 1999, it is illegal to smoke, to use plastic bags, or to fish in the King's rivers. By law, 65% of the country must retain tree cover for perpetuity. I was initially very worried about whether this project was going to do good or be harmful to Bhutan's future, but everyone from the King to the most remote villager wants it.