Fiji Helps Low-Income Families To Build Homes Under “30/30 Project”

The Project Aims To Complete 30 Houses In 30 Weeks

SUVA, 11th August 2008: Habitat for Humanity Fiji is helping low-income families to own a new home under its recently launched “30/30 Project”, or 30 houses in 30 weeks. Waisake and Lidia Raibevu are one such family.

All hands to deck: The New Zealand volunteers working hard on the new house for the Raibevu family.

Transformation: Volunteers working on another house (left) that was later completed (right) under the 30/30 Project.

The Raibevus, who have a four-year-old son, live with an extended family of 18 members. Like many families in the fast-growing population of Nasinu town on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, the Raibevus live in a makeshift or “lean-to” house made of wood or galvanised iron.

Lidia and her husband, Waisake, are police constables. Lidia later gave up her job to take care of her young son. “Life was hard because my husband was the only breadwinner in the family,” she told the local Fiji Times newspaper.

Lidia first heard about the Habitat program from her neighbor who built her home with Habitat’s help. Referring to her new house, she said: “Although it is a one-bedroom home, I am really excited to have my own home. I was fortunate to have been given a piece of land by my uncle and even my cousins have come to help build the wooden house. I am really happy and I can’t wait to see the house when it is completed.”

The home would still have been a dream for the Raibevu family if volunteers such as a 10-member team from New Zealand had not helped. “The volunteers are very happy and excited to come here to help build a home for the Raibevu family,” said team leader Shirley Bennet, who has been going on Habitat builds for the past six years.

“I love the experience especially when we get to work with locals in helping another family…This is not only a wonderful experience but a learning one for all the volunteers as well. We have qualified builders to help with the house building and everyone is working together to get this house done before we leave. We can do it and we will have it completed,” said Bennet.

Although the Raibevus have yet to complete their house that is being built incrementally, they are looking forward to moving in. Their old house is some distance from Waisake’s workplace and he has to spend two hours travelling to work. Now that he has been transferred to a police post near their Habitat house, he can save on travelling time as well as cost.

Life may be hard but Lidia said: “Even though part of the agreement was for us to contribute financially, it is a good feeling to know that our house wasn’t built entirely on handouts and that we contributed to the cost.”

“I am happy that with the help of Habitat for Humanity, my family will have a house to call our own. The secret to achieving one’s dream is to have a good education and to work hard. That is the only way up the success ladder,” she said.

To date, HFH Fiji has completed seven homes under the 30/30 project. HFH Fiji was registered in 1991, and launched its programs two years later. Habitat has built more than 660 homes in the country.