Hyundai Motor Supports Korean College Students On Habitat Builds In China For Third Year

Korean Automaker Will Also Send More Than 60 College Students To Build With HFH Brazil

SEOUL, 25th January 2011: For the third year running, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company has supported Korean college students on Habitat for Humanity builds in China and Brazil.

The Korean volunteers tied rebars (top) and lay bricks (middle), among other tasks, during their build in Fengmulang village, southern China. They also interacted with the local people and presented cultural performances.

The students were recruited under Hyundai’s Happy Move Global Youth Volunteers program. HFH Korea then sent the volunteers on Habitat builds in China and Brazil.

Two teams of more than 60 volunteers each arrived one after another to build with Habitat home partners in Fengmulang village in Guangdong province, southern China.

The build site is located in Conghua city, northeast of the provincial capital Guangzhou.

In addition to sponsoring the volunteers’ expenses for the trips, Hyundai Motor also donated over US50,000 to HFH China’s project in Fengmulang. Some pieces of playground equipment have also been donated to the village.

The Korean volunteers spent their week in Fengmulang moving bricks, mixing cement and laying bricks as well as setting up the playground equipment.

Like other farming families in Fengmulang village, Zeng Yinhua is used to the hard life. The mother of two girls – one nine years old and the other barely a year old – works hard in her family’s vegetable plot and orchard. Her husband has a job outside the village while her daughter studies in an elementary school in town.

Zeng and her family have lived for years in their earth-brick house which is poorly ventilated and lacks sanitary facilities. “I am excited to say goodbye to my old house which is unsafe and unhealthy. I long for happiness in the future,” said Zeng whose new home is being built by HFH China’s Guangdong project office with the help of volunteers such as the Korean students.

Volunteer Francisco Dong-seok Kim said he understood how those without decent shelter felt. When he was undergoing training during his military service – mandatory for all Korean adult males – he experienced living in the open, without access to the warmth of a home and home-cooked meals. “I experienced and knew the hardship of someone who doesn’t have his or her own house. As time goes by, I have taken these things for granted. But as I helped to build houses (in Guangzhou), I was able to reflect and realized that I was ashamed of myself.

“There is more to just providing a house. We provide a warm and comfortable place where people can have a meal with their family every morning and more opportunities to talk to each other. A house is not just a place to live in but also the place to keep the family warm and happy. Even though we had not made great improvement on the construction site, with whatever help we provided, the people in Cong Hua will be able to live in their new houses an hour, a day or even a week faster.”

Another volunteer Surah Yoon had to temper expectations. “On the first day, our team was assigned to move the bricks one by one, standing in a line. The job was easier than I thought and the process was fast and fun due to great teamwork.

“Thereafter, doing repetitive tasks made me doubt the contribution and value of the volunteer work. However, when I had the chance to explore the work site, I was very surprised to see the progress we had made. When we arrived, the houses were each built up to only the first story. After three to four days, each house was built up to the second story or higher.

“It was then that I realized my small contribution made it possible. I am proud to be doing real volunteer work. The only thing I did was moving bricks but this experience provided me with an opportunity to learn and improve. Thus, I gained more than what I actually gave.”

As in previous years, another team of Korean volunteers will be heading to Brazil in early February to build with Habitat in Sao Paulo, the largest city in the South American country. Hyundai Motor also donated US40,000 to HFH Brazil’s house repair project in Sao Paulo city.

Hyundai Motor has been supporting such Habitat builds since August 2009. Previous teams have built with HFH China in earthquake-affected Sichuan province and in Guangdong.

The Happy Move Global Youth Volunteers program is part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group’s social responsibility initiative through which university students are sent overseas to lend a helping hand in disadvantaged areas. The program sends about 1,000 university student volunteers to different corners of the globe every year.