Record-breaking Habitat Youth BUILD 2015 is the best one yet

BANGKOK (March 21, 2015) - At the peak of the three-month Habitat for Humanity Youth BUILD 2015 campaign today, a record 10,000 low-income families secured decent homes with the mobilization of 625,000 volunteers across the Asia-Pacific region. The largest contingent came from Nepal where more than 616,000 volunteers worked together to build decent homes in more than 1,000 locations.

In Simaria Sunsari, a community in southeastern Nepal, Sushila Devi Peshkar’s family and four other Nepali families lost their homes to a fire just five days ago. Mother of two children, Sushila was left with nothing. “I was hoping that someone will come to help us. I am very happy to get support to build my house. I can’t believe this is happening,” she said.

Another Nepali home partner, Sharmila Chapagain, 35, said: “I have never had my own house before. It is simple but will have a separate room for my children. This will mean they are able to focus on their studies. The future is bright.” She currently lives with her son and daughter in one room in Milanchowk. She also operates a small shop from the same room. Her daughter, Sujana Chapagain, 12, added: “I want to study and then become a nurse, so I can help others”.

Chapagain is building her new house with the support of some volunteers from Canada at the site in Hemja, Nepal. One of the volunteers, Jasmine Khanna, celebrated her 17th birthday at the Habitat Youth BUILD site. “Being here in Nepal and building a home, you learn how others live and really appreciate what you have. Building a home is something I thought I would never do. It is really hard work, but something I would definitely do again. It is really rewarding,” said Khanna.

Another volunteer from Sophia University campus chapter in Japan, Yuriko Tsuruoka, 19, said: “Street fundraising can be challenging since we are not able to approach everyone on the street but I would say it’s been successful overall! I think Habitat Youth BUILD is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness about poverty housing.” The student volunteers created a “photo booth” for passerbys to pose with posters, visuals and props to highlight that decent housing helps break the cycle of poverty. Over 500 Habitat Youth BUILD volunteers from Japan went on Global Village building trips to eight Asian and Pacific countries and undertook street fundraising back home.

A total of 580 volunteers from Sri Lanka were mobilized to help work on 58 houses in Trincomalee on 21 March, part of a project in support of internally displaced persons. Earlier in the campaign, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka garnered extensive television, radio and press coverage and social media support to share the message of decent homes providing a way out of poverty.

In Liangxin village, Guangdong province, China, 140 youth volunteers from Hong Kong and China are spending their weekend working on homes for low-income families. Chinese volunteer X.Z. Chen said: “It really means something to me when I am helping those families in need, even though I am just contributing a little.” The volunteers were helping to build brick houses with a reinforced concrete roof and proper sanitation facilities for families who have been living in substandard housing.

Online ambassador from Habitat for Humanity Philippines, blogger shared constant updates today on the various Habitat Youth BUILD activities taking place around his country with his 24,600 followers on Twitter. He tweeted in Tagalog about excited Habitat home partner Liza Borja and her children moving into their new home.

Other Habitat Youth BUILD highlights from the region:

In Vietnam yesterday, a Habitat Youth BUILD school program was held at the Canadian International School. Over 400 students, from Grade 1 to 12 participated in series of activities including a photo and drawing contest and the production of a community video about the housing need in Vietnam. Separately, the Ho Chi Minh International School raised US 1,500 and students will be volunteering to help build a house for a Habitat family.

Meanwhile, India has mobilized 2,034 volunteers to build homes for 135 families in 100 days since the campaign’s launch in December. Nearly 16,000 individuals were engaged through different awareness campaigns including school presentations, sanitation campaigns and rallies.

Indonesian singer-songwriter Vanessa Theodora Mbouw, known as vanessaTM., composed and donated a song “Start the Fire” to encourage youth of the region to be the change they want to see. The music video featuring Habitat supporters can be viewed . vanessaTM is a youth ambassador for Habitat for Humanity Indonesia.

Now in its fourth year, the largest volunteer-driven movement in the Asia-Pacific region draws support from young people in 15 countries and one Special Administrative Region – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Habitat Youth BUILD heightens awareness of the poverty housing situation in the region and around the world and inspires people to take action to tackle the growing problem. The campaign encourages the youth to support families in need of decent homes, to rally against poverty by volunteering, fundraising and speaking out, to build homes, and communities on a Habitat build site, and to take action online through their social networks.