HFH Singapore’s First-Ever “Women Build” Team Works On Batam

Team Led by New HFH Singapore Goodwill Ambassador Eunice Olsen

SINGAPORE, 22nd April 2009: A 10-strong team took part in Habitat for Humanity Singapore’s first-ever Women Build recently on the Indonesian island of Batam. Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build brings together women from all walks of life to take action against poverty housing and make a difference by building homes and communities.

New HFH Singapore goodwill ambassador Eunice Olsen (second from left) with her team mates tying wires on reinforcement bars.

HFH Singapore’s first-ever Women Build team with Habitat’s homepartner family.

Habitat’s home partner Jerni Nababan with daughter Santika at their new home.

The team helped to lay the foundation for a new house for the Purba family. The members worked on tying wires on several steel bars which were then used in reinforcing the house’s foundation and mixing and passing buckets of cement.

Team leader Eunice Olsen, a Singapore legislator and new HFH Singapore goodwill ambassador, said: “Habitat for Humanity has been very committed to building houses for communities around the world. Everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads. I’m very privileged to be part of the very first Women Build in Singapore…Hopefully, this will help to encourage more women to be a part of this experience.”

An avid volunteer, Olsen aims to raise awareness about youth issues and to promote youth programs and volunteerism. Crowned Miss Singapore Universe in 2000, she is currently co-hosting The Duke, a men’s magazine talk show on AXN cable channel.

Other team members were Loretta Chen, artistic director of Zebra Crossing Productions; Nancy Frohman, general manager of SingHealth Foundation; Dora Yeo, general manager of [email protected], a Singapore budget hotel; architect Loh Lik Hwa; Dr Tara Huber, senior research scientist; Loo Tze Lui, vice-president of Pacific Star, a Singapore-headquartered property investment company; Tan Mae Shen, vice president for private banking at J.P. Morgan and Sandra Goh, Southeast Asia business group director of Microsoft’s mobile communications business.

Loh added: “I am glad to be able to do my part in combating poverty housing and homelessness. While we don’t have the men around to help in the manual labor, I am sure we will survive and do a good job!”

Chen said: “The sense of accomplishment is best savored when we witnessed the laying of the cement foundations over the steel structures we had fashioned out of camaraderie, sweat and grit.

“This experience serves as a reminder that whilst we may lose our jobs and our money, we have not lost our homes, families, limbs or lives and thus, we should never ever lose our presence of mind, our capacity for charity and our belief in creating a better world for all to live,” she added.

The volunteers’ hard work was appreciated by home partner Ronal Wilhansen Purba, a laborer, his wife Jerni Nababan, and their three-year-old daughter, Santika. Expressing her gratitude, Jerni told the women volunteers on the last day of their build: “I know that, with your help, the construction of this house will go smoothly.”

HFH Singapore’s national director Yong Teck Meng said: “Although we may not see it here in Singapore, there are many people in other countries who are without a home. March is a month where many around the world celebrate International Women’s Day and women’s empowerment. We are glad to be forming the first women’s team to Batam in conjunction with this, and are encouraged by the willingness of these women to roll up their sleeves to build for a cause.”

Since September 2004, HFH Singapore has been mobilizing teams of volunteers to build in Batam. To date, more than 2,000 volunteers have contributed their time and labor to build over 350 houses in Batam.