Australia, Hong Kong and Japan Winners Feature in Habitat for Humanity International Youth Awards

July 2, 2004

BANGKOK: 2nd July 2004: Two outstanding young supporters of Habitat for Humanity’s Campus Chapter and Youth Program and two student groups have been honored for their work in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fund raisers: Kanda University of International School Campus Chapter members get out the HFH message

Award winners: members of the Kanda University of International School Campus Chapter

Australian volunteer Mark Griffin and Crystal Tang, President of Hong Kong International School’s Campus Chapter, were this week named winners of Habitat for Humanity International 2003 International Youth Awards. Awards also went to Japan Campus Chapter members from Osaka, and the Kanda University of International School Campus Chapter.

The International Youth Awards recognize individuals and groups who highlight the importance of youth in improving living conditions of people in need. Since Habitat for Humanity International launched the awards in 2001, nominees from the Asian-Pacific have now won a total of 14 awards.

Outstanding volunteer: HFHI International Youth Award winner Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin won his award for expanding HFH Australia’s capacity to deliver on Habitat mission to provide safe, decent, affordable housing. He is an enthusiastic volunteer at home and overseas. Mark has organized monthly build days with the Western Sydney affiliate, as well as mobilizing local volunteers and building a partnership between his church, Burwood Uniting and the affiliate. He was also involved in Global Village, joining a pilot project to Samoa, a “Future Leaders Build in Fiji”. In the words of the nomination: “Volunteers are fuelled to come out to the build site by Mark’s youthful enthusiasm and honest encouragement.”

“Mark’s dedication to HFH’s mission can be seen in his actions by recruiting volunteers to the build site, hearing him speak of his involvement with Habitat and working with him to eradicate poverty housing.” Campus Chapter president Crystal Tang was recognized for herrole as an advocate. She organized benefit events to raise money and awareness of Habitat’s mission at her school in Hong Kong. She organized one benefit – a rockconcert – twice as the first time the event was cancelled because of the outbreak of Severe AcuteRespiratory Syndrome or SARS. Crystal also helped organize the first ever Global Village trip to Kunming, China.

According to her nominator, she has “a genuine passion” for Habitat, a student leader who has spoken in front of the student body and parents in order to better educate them about Habitat’s mission.

The group advocacy award went to HFH Kanda University of International School. Chapter members were active in promoting HFH and the issues of poverty housing on campus. They leveraged Global Village trips the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and gained publicity in one of Japan’s leading newspapers. Their twice-a-month fundraising activities not only promoted Habitat’s message to very diverse cross section of the Japanese society, many of whom are not aware of poverty housing issues in any way. They also helped raised over 1,000,000 yen (about US9,000).

The nominators note the chapter is “vibrant, active and growing” – with 60 members, up from 25. “It is still young but it has firmly established foundation which ensures that it will be active for a long time serving as a model for future campus chapters in the area.”

The final award, for leadership, went to a Global Youth Action Team made up of nine representatives from Japanese campus chapters, mainly from Kansai region. The Japanese chapters had expressed an interest in doing more than raise funds and go on Global Village trips (HFH Japan is a “non-building” country).

The team visited the Dumaguete City affiliate in the Philippines and conducted research on community needs beyond housing. Their recommendations on areas such as waste management and road links will be followed up by a second GYAP team due to visit in September 2004.

The award nomination said the team “has conducted numerous workshops to educate campus chapters and broaden the knowledge base of HFHI among youth volunteers in Japan. The team has heightened the level of understanding among Campus Chapters in Japan as to how effectively Habitat is addressing the issue of poverty and developing sustainable communities.”