Habitat for Humanity Nepal Celebrates 5,000th House Milestone, Breaks Ground For 5,001st House

HFH Nepal Plans To Serve Another 5,000 Families In Next Two Years Using Strong Local And International Partnerships

KATHMANDU, 24th July 2009: Habitat for Humanity Nepal has celebrated the building of its 5,000th home, at a site in Jhapa district in the east of the mountainous nation. The milestone was reached amid a fast-growing program in a country where tens of thousands of families live in sub-standard housing.

(Top) Habitat supporters walking to the site of HFH Nepal’s 5,000th house in Jhapa. All photos by Mikel Flamm.(Center) Dr. Chhewang N. Lama, member secretary of the Nepal government’s Social Welfare Council, cutting the ribbon during the ceremony.(Bottom) HFH Nepal’s 5,000th house will enable Madan and Rita to have the family they have always wanted.

Habitat’s home partners and local partners joined more than 4,000 students to draw their dream houses on a 5 km.-long cloth banner. The banner is on display from the site of the 5,000th house to the town hall.

(Top) HFH Nepal’s program coordinator Bal Devi Pokhrel speaking at the 5001st house ground-breaking ceremony in Kavre as donors, partners and local community members look on.(Center) Anita and Sanu, who will be HFH Nepal’s 5,001st home partners, outside Sanu’s parents’ house where they have been living for the past few years.(Bottom) Sanu digging the foundation of his new home.

One day later, HFH Nepal marked the ground-breaking for its 5,001st house, in a new urban slum upgrading project in Kavre district, about 50 km. east of the capital Kathmandu.

A key to HFH Nepal’s success is its partnerships with non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations. The program in Nepal stands out for leveraging on bamboo technology, housing microfinance, urban initiatives and for the long-term support of local and international volunteers.

Aruna Paul Simittrarachchi, country representative for HFH Nepal, is thankful for committed partners. “Without them, it would have been impossible to reach, first, the 5,000th house goal and to look forward to the next goal of another 5,000 houses within the next two years.”

He added that HFH Nepal is in the process of working with the government to initiate a campaign for 100,000 houses within the next five years.

HFH Nepal’s partners include local non-governmental organizations such as Backward Society Education, Housing and Community Development Center, Jeewan Bikash Samaj, Lumanti, Junthara Community Development Center, Nari Bikash Sangh, Sahara Nepal, Samjhauta Nepal, Samudahik Bikash Kendra, Samuhik Hatemalo Sewa Samuha and international NGOs like SOS Children’s Village, The Lutheran World Federation-Nepal, World Vision and Adventist Development and Relief Agency.

Bilateral aid agencies such as Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) also worked with HFH Nepal. Through HFH Korea, KOICA funded a 425-house project in Jhapa. CIDA and HFH Canada also contributed toward the setting up of HFH Nepal’s factory in Jhapa to produce corrugated bamboo roofing sheets.

The Habitat global family has also supported HFH Nepal. Tithe donations and/or volunteers have come from HFH Australia, HFH Canada, HFH Great Britain, HFH Korea, HFH Malaysia, HFH New Zealand, HFH Poland and HFH Singapore, and Habitat affiliates in the USA such as West Volusia in Florida, Metro Denver (Colorado), Tulsa (Oklahoma), and St. Charles County (Missouri).

At the 5,000th house dedication ceremony, Dr. Chhewang N. Lama, member secretary of the Nepal government’s Social Welfare Council, cut the ribbon as Habitat home partners, local villagers, representatives from Habitat’s partner organizations and Habitat’s staff looked on.

A highlight of the 5,000th house dedication ceremony was a special drawing campaign designed to raise awareness of the need for safe, decent and affordable housing. More than 4,000 students, together with HFH Nepal’s home partners and local partners, gathered in Jhapa on 11th July to draw their dream houses on a 5,000-meter-long cloth banner. By the time the banner was done, 1,500 liters of paint and 1,200 brushes had been used. The banner was displayed in and around the town hall where the 5,000th house ceremony was held.

“This project drew a lot of media attention and has helped to ensure that Habitat for Humanity becomes a household name that draws others to join us in addressing the need for housing in Nepal,” said Aruna Paul.

“The success of our program has been through the generosity of our partners, and due to the HFH staff who have dedicated themselves to see our projects grow to meet the needs of the thousands of families we have assisted and to the future families we will assist.”

For HFH Nepal’s 5,000th home partner family, Rita Sarki and Madan, their home marked the beginning of a new life. Twenty-three-year-old Rita and her husband Madan, 24, had been living in a farming community in Satpakhe village, Jhapa, for the past eight years. Before they were married, they lived with their families in crowded single-room houses made of bamboo and thatch.

“When we married, I moved into Madan’s family house. There were over eight persons living in the house so we had little room to ourselves. The roof leaked in the rainy season,” said Rita.

As she washed the front porch of her new house in preparation for the house dedication ceremony, Rita said: “We feel that we have gained a new social status now with this home and feel proud to have family and friends come here.

“Madan and I have waited to have children because there was not enough room in the old house. This home will enable us to have the family we have always wanted to.”

Her husband has his own three-wheeler wagon which he uses to transport goods for the people in the community but he stopped work during construction so that he could help build his own house.

Madan said: “We can now plan for the future with our own family and this makes us both very grateful and happy that Habitat gave us the chance to be in front of our own home today.”

A day after HFH Nepal’s 5,000th house celebration, another couple in Kavre district marked their own special day. Anita Danuwar and her husband Sanu, a farmer, will be Habitat home partners for the 5,001st house to be built.

A congratulatory message from Nepal’s Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, was read during the 5,001st house ground-breaking ceremony which was attended by Yvan Castro, country director of Adventist Development Relief Agency Nepal, HFH Nepal’s partner in Kavre district. Other guests included William S. Martin, political and economic chief from the US Embassy in Kathmandu, government officials, the local media, and representatives from the local cooperatives as well as villagers. Local and international NGOs such as Caritas, Community Development Center, Lumanti, Samjhauta Nepal and SOS Children’s Village were also present.

HFH Nepal’s Aruna Paul said: “Today we celebrate the 5,001st house but we also recognize that each year there are 72,000 families in Nepal who need adequate housing.

“As we celebrated the 5,000th house the day before, we now have committed to assist 5,000 families within the next two years. With the support of our funders, donors and partners we may even be able to assist up to 5,000 families a year.”

For Anita and Sanu who are expecting their first child, a new Habitat house is welcome. The couple now lives in a cramped room in a two-story mud brick house which belongs to Sanu’s parents. They have to share space with six other people as well as goats and cows which are kept in a room downstairs.

The couple has been saving 25 rupees (US0.33) monthly with a local cooperative, Shree Jawalasdevi Simaltar Panchakanya,for the past three years. To build their Habitat house, Anita and Sanu are taking a US250 loan from the cooperative to cover the cost of doors, windows and roofing materials. They will collect stones from the river and mud from their own land to ease the cost of the house.

A partner of HFH Nepal since 2006, ADRA Nepal has been working in Kavre district for more than two decades to help poor and disadvantaged groups improve their lives. ADRA Nepal provides housing microfinance services to poor families who are building or repairing their houses with HFH Nepal. To date, Habitat and ADRA have built 320 houses in Kavre and are working to rehabilitate some 432 houses for flood-affected communities in the west of the country.