Habitat For Humanity’s World Habitat Day Celebrations In The Asia-Pacific Region

Activities Ranged From Hard Hat Day Builds To Shelter Design Competition To Roundtable Discussion

BANGKOK, 20th October 2010: On World Habitat Day on 4th October, Habitat for Humanity’s Asia-Pacific region bustled with awareness-building, fund-raising and house-building to highlight its mission of helping those in need of decent shelter.

World Habitat Day, which falls on the first Monday in October, is a United Nations event which calls for people around the world to exchange ideas and advocate for the need and importance of housing.

HFH Bangladesh marked World Habitat Day with participation in a roundtable discussion on urbanization.

Volunteers from Northbridge International School took part in HFH Cambodia’s Hard Hat Builds.

A young Habitat supporter in Hong Kong assembling a model stilt house representing HFH China’s Tai O Restoration Project.

Executives from the real estate industry observed World Habitat Day by joining Habitat DreamBUILDERS initiative in Chennai, southern India.

Dato Wira Chor Chee Heung, Malaysia’s Minister of Housing and Local Government, sporting a signature Hard Hat while visiting the Habitat booth.

Habitat volunteers from Australia and Canada displaying their national flags during the Everest Build in Nepal.

(Above) South Korean volunteers helped to build a Habitat house which would be moved from Seoul to Yangpyung city.(Below) The Photo Wall at HFH Korea’s special event at the city hall square in Seoul.

Habitat staff in the Asia-Pacific area office presenting their heartfelt vision of a secure and solid home.

The theme for the 2010 World Habitat Day in the host city of Shanghai, China and the rest of the world is “Better City, Better Life”.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Habitat for Humanity presented the regional campaign, “Hard Hats for Habitat”, with safety helmets as a symbol of the need for improved shelter which brings health, educational, economic and social benefits.

Habitat’s regional programs marked World Habitat Day with various activities. These included “Hard Hat Day” builds and other special volunteer builds, home dedications and a house design competition.

Other innovative calls to attention included a barefoot walk in Sri Lanka, a fashion show in South Korea, a roundtable discussion and an art exhibition in Bangladesh, the flying of country flags in Nepal, mall activities in India and interactive public events, teas, celebrity support, media engagement, and thematic merchandize elsewhere in the region.

Participating countries included Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Hong Kong, Shanghai), India (Mumbai, Chennai), Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Highlights included:

Australia: Habitat for Humanity Australia whetted appetites with a new fund-raising event, “High Tea for Habitat”. The grand hostess (ambassador) of the event was Jill Jones-Evans, co-owner of the Victoria Room, who has been dubbed Sydney’s Queen of High Tea.

HFH Australia has encouraged its supporters to host their own high tea any time in October. Proceeds will be channeled through Habitat for Humanity to build more homes and implement other community development initiatives for families in need in Australia and elsewhere.

Bangladesh: HFH Bangladesh celebrated World Habitat Day in partnership with the Bangladesh Institute of Planners, the Embassy of Switzerland, the Embassy of Germany and GTZ Bangladesh, the local arm of the German development agency. The event attracted more than 200 planning experts and students and received substantial media coverage.

Based on the 2010 World Habitat Day’s theme of “Better City, Better Life”, the roundtable discussion centered on planning secondary towns for better life. Habitat’s regional program advisor Matius Krisetya presented his paper “Metaphor in Urbanization”. His paper and two other papers presented by Bangladesh Institute of Planners and GTZ will be published in a commemorative book in the upcoming weeks.

In addition, there was an art exhibition by three international artists from Bangladesh, Switzerland and Brazil depicting Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka’s urbanization through oil paintings and carved wood prints.

Cambodia: In the month of October, HFH Cambodia 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 culminated 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.

Hong Kong, China: At a large shopping mall in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, HFH China organized a two-day public awareness event “Building Homes, Building Hopes” with activities such as assembling model stilt houses, and painting gloves and hard hats.

High profile guests at the event included guest of honor Dr. Patrick C. P. Ho, former Hong Kong Secretary for Home Affairs; Dominic Pang, chairman of Chun Wo Development Holdings Limited, a Habitat donor; and several Hong Kong actors and singers.

HFH China also aired an awareness video featuring Hong Kong celebrities and Habitat volunteers Karen Mok, Daniel Wu and Terence Yin. The special advocacy video was screened on TV screens in the airport express trains and at major shopping malls.

Earlier, HFH China’s Hong Kong office designed a special polo T-shirt featuring the signatures of Karen Mok and Daniel Wu. For a HK100 (US13) donation, companies associated with home design, furnishings and appliances, each received a polo T-shirt to be worn on World Habitat Day.

HFH China has also invited students from 70 primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong to take part in a shelter design competition. Students are encouraged to visit HFH China’s Tai O House Restoration Project in a fishing village in Hong Kong 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.

Shanghai, China: Volunteers from the USA Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai have also acted on theme of “Better City, Better Life” for this year’s World Habitat Day by partnering with HFH China. Habitat’s Shanghai office organized a special build for more than 50 student ambassadors from the pavilion and other supporters. The build was led by Beatrice Camp, U.S. Consul General based in Shanghai.

The volunteer team began laying the foundation of a new house for local construction worker Gu Jinfa and his 76-year-old mother in HFH China’s poverty alleviation project in Pinghu county, Zhejiang province. The family has been living in a dilapidated house for decades, vulnerable to the risk of the house collapsing during the typhoon season.

Mumbai, India: HFH India organized a three-day “Let’s build a home brick by brick” event at the popular, high-traffic High Street Phoenix Mall in Mumbai, western India.

Shoppers were invited to donate toward the cost of construction materials such as bricks, tiles, doors, windows and roof for a model house. They wore hard hats to support the Hard Hats for Habitat initiative before proceeding to “build” part of the model house.

Bollywood celebrity Jacqueline Fernandez and members of Habitat’s Women IndiaBUILDS committee provided some glitz to the event.

As part of its first anniversary celebration, the high-end Palladium part of the mall pledged one per cent of its one-day anniversary sale to support Habitat’s work to assist women and low-income families.

Well-known Indian columnist and novelist Shobhaa De received the check from Rajendra Kalkar, director of Palladium Centre, on behalf of HFH India. Chairperson of the Women IndiaBUILDS committee Sheila Kripalani and committee member Kanan Koticha were also present.

Chennai, India: In southern India, corporate leaders from the real-estate industry helped build Habitat homes in Thiruvallur district as part of Habitat DreamBUILDERS initiative. The initiative was launched by the Habitat Resource Center in Chennai together with the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India which represents private-sector developers.

Indonesia: HFH Indonesia held a World Habitat Day Build about 50 km. from the capital Jakarta. Volunteer teams from various corporations such as developer Sentul City Real Estate helped to build 14 new houses.

Malaysia: HFH Malaysia had a booth at the Second Meeting of the Regional 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Forum in Kuala Lumpur to highlight its projects. The event also featured the House Build project which is part of a larger program to encourage collaboration between housing developers, Habitat for Humanity, government agencies and local communities.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Housing and Local Government has identified six houses to be built by volunteers in key states at a cost of US6,000 each in a move to raise awareness of inadequate housing conditions.

The signature hard hats at HFH Malaysia’s booth attracted attention of visitors including a Malaysian minister who put one on. After the forum, at the official launch of World Habitat Day, HFH Malaysia was presented with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of its stewardship to help families in need of decent shelter.

The forum was jointly organized by Malaysia’s Ministry Of Housing And Local Government, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development.

Mongolia: HFH Mongolia celebrated 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 Blue Sky international blitz build which ended in early July 2010. The Khangai program team also highlighted the need for decent housing among local NGOs, churches, the media, governors and government representatives.

Nepal: During the recently completed Everest Build by HFH Nepal, international and Nepali volunteers flew their national flags and several also wore hard hats to signify their support of Habitat’s mission to eliminate poverty housing.

The Philippines: HFH Philippines engaged volunteers to join the fight against poverty housing through various digital media avenues such as its website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In October, the theme Hard Hats for Habitat underpins a series of activities including a social media blitz, a youth build, a bloggers’ build and a comprehensive media outreach exercise featuring print editorials, radio interviews, cinema and outdoor public service announcements.

Meanwhile, members of HFH Philippines’ Habitat Youth Council led 40 of their classmates and friends from the International School of Manila to build in Calauan, Laguna province. The volunteers, including bloggers and Global Village volunteers, helped to paint houses, produce bricks, sift sand, mix cement and plant trees.

South Korea: HFH Korea hosted a special event at the city hall square in the country’s capital, Seoul. Twenty-five volunteers helped to build a house which would be moved later to Yangpyung city, about 45 km. east of Seoul, to be lived in by the Lee family.

Among the volunteers was a special guest – In-Joo Park, senior presidential secretary for social integration. He said: “Habitat for Humanity is a place to take action to share and love.” About 1,000 visitors thronged HFH Korea’s event.

Other programs included a fashion show which featured construction clothes or carpenters’ garb. The models comprised Habitat staff and volunteers as well as professional models.

There was also a Photo Wall section where the public was encouraged to have photos taken of their creative responses to the question “What will you build?”. Responses ranged from “hope”, “better world”, “a world with abundant love” to “healthy family, happy home”. Some of the photos taken will be submitted to Habitat for Humanity’s online photo petition.

HFH Korea collected about 450 petitions at the onsite advocacy drive and call to action.

Sri Lanka: HFH Sri Lanka hosted its first Global Village volunteer team in four years. Habitat also partnered 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.

Thailand: Habitat staff at the Asia-Pacific area office in Bangkok donned safety helmets in a nod to the regional Hard Hats for Habitat campaign.

The staff formed the outline of a house that contained hard hats arranged to resemble a heart.

The HH4H initiative features the hard hat as a visual reminder of the need to build safe homes that provide a gateway to improved health and conducive environment to study and rest in.

HFH Thailand also organized simultaneous builds in four locations – Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Pathum Thani and Ranong, coupled with media interviews in Bangkok, will raise awareness of the issues of inadequate housing and call for volunteers to help build better homes to transform lives.