Habitat For Humanity Programs In Asia-Pacific Gearing Up For World Habitat Day

Cambodian Volunteers Sport Hard Hats For Habitat While HFH Sri Lanka Gets Ready To Host Its First International Volunteer Team In Four Years

Volunteers from “New Friends” team donning Hard Hats For Habitat while building with HFH Cambodia.

BANGKOK, 28th September 2010: Habitat groups across the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere are finalizing plans to mark World Habitat Day at the beginning of next month.

On 4th October, in recognition of World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity will raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and the “better life” benefits that follow – improved health, education, safety and economic opportunities.

In Asia, the regional campaign Hard Hats for Habitat presents hard hats as a ready reminder of the need for better shelter and the safety and protection that a home provides to a family.

HFH Bangladesh is teaming up with the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) and the local arm of the German development agency GTZ to commemorate the day with a roundtable forum. Papers will be presented on the theme “Planning our Secondary Towns for Better Lives”.

There will also be an art exhibition entitled “Connecting” by Brazilian artist Cida Lima and Bangladeshi sculptor Anisuzzaman, an assistant professor of fine arts at Dhaka University, whose works reflect a construction theme. Other initiatives will include the publication of a souvenir book and a media outreach plan.

In the run up to World Habitat Day, HFH Cambodia this month has mobilized over 150 local volunteers to work on its “Hard Hat Days” builds. Volunteer teams have come from Pannasastra University, Logos and Northbridge International Schools, ANZ Royal Bank and TWR Radio Cambodia. Its celebrations will culminate with a special house dedication at the New Holistic Hope Community in Oudong, Kandal province, as well as the construction of the first house of its newest project, “Enhancing HIV/OAC Programs with Holistic Housing Solutions” in Sen Sok community.

In Hong Kong, HFH China is inviting students from 1,500 primary and secondary schools to take part in a house design competition. Students are being encouraged to visit HFH China’s Tai O House Restoration Project and then submit their own design for a house built on stilts, like those in Tai O. The winning entries will be showcased in a public exhibition in early 2011. In Shanghai, a series of Habitat builds will be organized in the Pinghu community outside the city.

HFH Mongolia is to celebrate World Habitat Day with the dedication of 52 houses in Ulaanbaatar, Khangai, Erdenet and Darkhan. The Habitat team in Ulaanbaatar will also say “thank you” to students from a local technical college who volunteered at the recent Blue Sky international blitz build. The Khangai program team will highlight the need for decent housing among local NGOs, churches, the media, governors and government representatives.

HFH Sri Lanka is gearing up to host its first Global Village volunteer team in four years. HFH Sri Lanka is also partnering with the Stitch Movement, a local initiative to encourage youth volunteerism and activism in the country, to organize a one-kilometer barefoot walk to remember those without adequate housing.

Over in Seoul, HFH Korea is organizing an extraordinary fashion show featuring hard hats, white shirts and jeans.

“We at Habitat for Humanity hope that everyone who is concerned about decent housing joins a World Habitat Day activity to stand with others who want to make adequate housing a priority, to help build strong and healthy families and communities,” said Peter Gape, Habitat’s director of regional programs, Asia-Pacific.

Research shows that housing has a positive impact particularly on the lives of children.

  • Children younger than five years old living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
  • Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
  • Children in poor housing have increased risk of viral or bacterial infections and a greater chance of suffering mental health and behavioral problems. (Harker: 2006)
  • Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)

Over a dozen countries in Asia and the Pacific will be organizing building, advocacy and fund-raising activities to recognize World Habitat Day. More details.

Habitat for Humanity is inviting supporters to design a T-shirt that represents their voice for decent housing for those in need.

An online Hard Hats for Habitat T-Shirt Design Challenge will be launched on World Habitat Day. Habitat for Humanity is inviting supporters to wear their creative hard hats and design a T-shirt which tells their friends and the wider community that they want to help someone in need of decent shelter.

The T-Shirt Design Challenge closes 14th November 2010. The winning designer will see their creative work produced as a limited-edition Habitat T-shirt and publicized internationally.

This year’s 27th annual Habitat for Humanity Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project is a World Habitat Day event.

For five days starting 4th October, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn and 1,000 volunteers will help build, rehabilitate and repair 86 homes in six U.S. cities. Habitat is also calling for supporters to submit a photo in answer to the question “What will you build?” on an online gallery on altenheime-hamburg.info.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October as World Habitat Day, a call to people around the world to join together to exchange ideas and advocate for the need and importance of housing. The United Nations’ chosen theme for 2010 for events in the host city of Shanghai, China and the rest of the world is “Better City, Better Life.”