Manila, International volunteers from Habitat for Humanity break ground today in Fiji for this year’s Pacific Build, following in the footsteps of other volunteers at the Asia Build in Myanmar last month.
Fifty-two young Japanese volunteers spent 10 days from February 10 to 20 to help build four strong, disaster-resilient homes using bamboo technology in Sonpi Village, Thanatpin Township in Bago, Myanmar. Another team of 20 Japanese youth will work from March 6 to 16 to build a safe home for a family in Korobebe village, a mountainous area in Nadi, Fiji.
Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president of Habitat for Humanity International said, Having the heart of a volunteer creates good things, as shown by these young people who help build houses and spend time with families and communities that we are supporting. From this annual activity, we hope to build a generation of young leaders who will raise awareness and resources to help families build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
Now on its second run, The Asia and Pacific Builds are an initiative of the 2019 Habitat Young Leaders Build that provides youth across Asia-Pacific opportunities to join international volunteer trips, raise awareness about the issues of decent housing, and interact with local youth volunteers and community members. It gives young people an avenue to support the work of Habitat for Humanity.
The volunteer trip to Myanmar is 19-year-old Rino Yoshida’s second Global Village trip with Habitat, having previously helped build a house in Battambang, Cambodia. When she heard about the #HabitatYLB Asia Build from a school friend, she decided to volunteer again. I wanted to learn how to build a bamboo house, she said. When I first saw the family whose house I will help build, I felt awkward. I saw that their temporary house was fragile and vulnerable. Once the house is finished and the family has moved in, I wish that they will have a better life.
The 2019 #HabitatYLB Asia and Pacific Builds also marks the 30th anniversary of Habitat’s Global Village, an international volunteer program that organizes short trips abroad for volunteers to work hand-in-hand with families to build simple, decent houses. Over the years, the program has helped provide homes to hundreds and thousands of families, empowering them to lead meaningful lives.
U Thein Naing, 49, is one of the four new homeowners in Bago district. Despite all their efforts, he and his wife, Daw Khin Aye, 54, find that their monthly income of 100,000 Myanmar kyat (US$65) is just enough to pay for their children’s school fees and food. They had no money left over to shoulder house repairs. With the support of Habitat and the Asia Build volunteers, he was able to build a disaster-resilient house that will not leak during the rainy season.
The first time I saw the volunteers, I already felt like they were part of the family. No words can express my happiness. Without them or Habitat, there is no way we could afford a strong house. My favorite part of the build was when we built the stairs and the water tank, because I never had those before, U Thein Naing said.
The annual Habitat Young Leaders Build will culminate on 13 April 2019, with young people taking part in a multitude of activities across the region. These include house construction, school cleaning, hygiene and sanitation education, fundraising events, and advocating for decent housing on social media. Since 2012, over 12.5 million Habitat Young Leaders Build supporters have raised US$7.5 million in funds to help build houses and supported more than 29,000 families across the Asia and the Pacific.
Source: Habitat for Humanity