HFH Indonesia Celebrates 300 Families Housed On Batam Island

Habitat Will Also Mark Construction Milestones Of 1,500th House Built in Meulaboh And 1,000th House In Yogyakarta

BATAM/JAKARTA, 29th June 2007: Even as Habitat for Humanity Indonesia is celebrating several construction milestones in the month of June, it continues to receive support from various quarters, including local artists.

Paving the way: (from left) HFH Singapore national director Yong Teck Meng, Batam’s deputy mayor Syamsul Bahrum and chairman of HFH Indonesia’s board, Jusuf Arbianto, at the opening of the house dedication ceremony on Batam island.

Rejoicing: A Habitat home partner family being presented with a symbolic key from a MediaCorp volunteer.

Congratulations: Leonilo Escalada (right), director of the tsunami recovery project in Indonesia, after receiving a plaque from Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, director of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) for Nias and Aceh (left).

HFH Indonesia recently commemorated 300 homes built in partnership with HFH Singapore’s volunteers for low-income families on Batam island, part of Indonesia’s Riau Islands province.

At the end of June 2007, HFH Indonesia will also mark the completion of the 1,500th house under Habitat’s tsunami reconstruction program in Meulaboh on the west coast of Sumatra.

In addition, Habitat will celebrate 1,000 houses built for earthquake-affected families in Yogyakarta city on the island of Java.

Recently, HFH Indonesia also completed repairs of 1,000 houses that were damaged by heavy floods in Jakarta in January 2007. The three-month Jakarta Flood Disaster Response Project covered the areas of Tanjung Priok and Teluk Gong in North Jakarta as well as Sukakarya in North Bekasi. Most of the low-income families live in these three areas which were among the worst-affected.

Meanwhile in the capital city Jakarta, HFH Indonesia stands to benefit from a current art exhibition which will see some sale proceeds going toward Habitat.

The ceremony marking the homes built on Batam island was attended by a few home partners representing the community that received Habitat houses. Others present included Syamsul Bahrum, Batam’s deputy mayor and head of economic development, Ir. Fitrah Khomarudin, Batam’s director of settlement and social work, HFH Singapore national director Yong Teck Meng, volunteers from Singapore broadcasting corporation MediaCorp, and management of Harris Hotel Batam.

Symbolic keys and certificates were presented to the Habitat families represented by home partners such as Kastro Ketaren. He said: “Our life before was more difficult, when we had no house, at the same time we need to school our children and we had to continue our life, and at that moment, Habitat came to us.”

Recognizing the needs of Kastro’s family and many others, HFH Indonesia’s Batam affiliate’s chairman Rudi Sembiring said: “Our goal is to help all members of the Batam community to have a decent place to live so the high demand of housing for low income families in Batam can be reduced through Habitat’s program.”

Volunteers from Singapore have also boosted Habitat’s work in Batam. HFH Singapore’s Yong cited the proximity of Singapore to Batam – half an hour by ferry – as a factor in attracting many individuals and companies in Singapore to volunteer for builds on the Indonesian island. The Singapore volunteers are also able to see the progress of the builds for themselves, and this promoted a greater involvement in Habitat’s program on Batam. “Batam has far exceeded our expectations. We started out trying to build only 100 homes, but with the help of MediaCorp and other volunteers, we’re actually moving a lot faster than we thought we would.”

Since January 2007, MediaCorp has been sending volunteers monthly for three-day builds on Batam, working alongside Habitat home partners. MediaCorp will continue volunteering through its Batam Build project until December 2007. MediaCorp’s Gwen Loh, chairperson of Batam Build, said: “We’ve signed on to complete ten homes. It’s been extremely gratifying, extremely fulfilling. Not just for the company but for all the volunteers as well.”

Batam’s deputy mayor Syamsul Bahrum said: “Our Singaporean volunteers, thanks for coming. On behalf of the mayor, I just want to thank you for your volunteer work, especially in developing housing for the Indonesian community. We’re going to speed up the social programs, between what Singaporean organizations and NGOs can do, cooperating and working together, hand-in-hand, people-to-people.”

In Jakarta, Habitat’s work is receiving support by way of art. Local Yulindra Gallery and Key Production are holding an exhibition at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jakarta to celebrate the capital city’s 480th anniversary. Works by artists such as renowned Balinese painter Nyoman Gunarsa, DJ Rahmansjah, Syahdan Lubis, Harry Bernadi and Irwan Widjayanto are on display and up for sale, with proceeds going to Habitat’s Love Indonesia programs (LIPS), a three-year advocacy and fundraising campaign launched in 2007. Widjayanto said: “As a painter, I am very delighted to know that my works can be used for the benefit of the families in need.” The exhibition ends on 13th July.

While HFH Indonesia is celebrating milestones in June, Habitat’s work in tsunami reconstruction is lauded by the Indonesian authorities in a recent ceremony. In Calang city, some 130 km. south of Aceh’s provincial capital Banda Aceh, Habitat for Humanity is one of the two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing the more than 50 groups which helped in reconstruction. The other NGO representative was Samaritan Purse. On behalf of Habitat, Leonilo Escalada, director of the tsunami recovery project in Indonesia, received a plaque from Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, director of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) for Nias and Aceh.

Kuntoro expressed his appreciation to Habitat and Samaritan Purse for already fulfilling their commitment in rebuilding the Aceh Jaya district.