A clear vision on World Habitat Day

About 470 local volunteers took part in a community build in Cambodia.

MANILA (Oct. 12, 2015) The vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live was expressed in myriad ways when Habitat for Humanity marked World Habitat Day on October 5. The first Monday in every October is designated as World Habitat Day by the United Nations to highlight the need for adequate housing.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, activities such as volunteer builds, house dedications, home clean-ups and art competitions showed how adequate shelter opens the door to a better life.

Here are some ways in which Habitat programs celebrated World Habitat Day:

Australia: supporters were encouraged to spread the word on the need for safe and decent housing. .

Bangladesh: more than 40 Habitat staff members took part in a staff build was held in Kaliganj in the capital Dhaka. In the afternoon, the staff visited a Habitat project which aimed to provide solar energy to 50 families.

Cambodia: a weeklong campaign peaked with a community build involving 470 local volunteers in the Bek Chan community, Kampong Speu province, on October 9, 2015. They painted 31 houses and repaired a house as well as conducted training in hygiene among 500 local children. The build was partly supported by Smart Axiata, a telecommunications company, that sent text messages to its eight million subscribers, calling on them to support the need for adequate housing. Habitat Cambodia’s staff members were also interviewed by local TV and radio stations, and talks were held at a few universities and international schools to raise awareness of Habitat’s work.

Fiji: a team of 26 Global Village volunteers, mostly from the U.S., dedicated a house that they built for former United Nations peacekeeper Waisake Yabaki and his family of nine.

Hong Kong: on October 3, local bloggers helped to clean up homes under Project Home Works and spread the word. Thanks to their blogs, Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong was able to recruit 70 new volunteers in just three days. An exhibition of images from Habitat’s work around the world was held at the Hong Kong office of a corporate partner.

India: Habitat for Humanity India’s celebration of World Habitat Day on October 5 was made memorable with a total of 945 supporters. About 40 staff members from the national office in Mumbai worked to level Dnyansadhana School’s playground which was affected by frequent flooding. Staff also served as judges of a ‘rangoli’ (Indian folk art) competition that had students creating floor art that expressed what a home meant to them. Two students each donated five Indian rupees (US0.08) for a brick each to mark the launch of the Habitat for Humanity Young Leaders Build in India. The amount, while small, was significant as the students came from low-income families. Their gesture spurred other students to donate. The total amount of 160 rupees will partly fund the construction of one toilet unit. In the capital New Delhi, Habitat staff worked with young beneficiaries of local non-profit organization Chetanalaya and youth volunteers to plant saplings in a community park that used to be a dumping ground. Awareness raising activities on the importance of decent homes, and clean water and safe sanitation and hygiene were conducted in Chennai and Bangalore.

Philippines: on October 10, simultaneous one-day builds were held at 24 sites that hosted 1,000 volunteers. The build sites were located in provinces such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Leyte, Metro Manila and Mindoro. Activities included construction, home repairs, clean-up of build sites and coastal areas, painting, water backpack distribution and even a blood donation drive.

South Korea: supporters were engaged via an online game (in Korean).

Sri Lanka: an art workshop organized by Habitat for Humanity had students render their impressions of the importance of a decent home and the challenges of poverty housing. Their artwork were shown at a Colombo art gallery the next day. Habitat Sri Lanka’s ambassador, Otara Gunewardene, supported Habitat’s vision with a post on her Facebook page. Corporate and staff builds are also scheduled in October.

Thailand: more than 30 Habitat staff were in Pathumthani province on October 5 to help Somnuek and his family of five build a house.

Vietnam: international and corporate volunteers worked on houses in Hoa Binh and Long Anh provinces while Habitat staff put their hands to work by making the house gesture.

In conjunction with World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity International released the 2016 Shelter Report. The report explores the importance of secure land tenure, especially for women, and provides policy recommendations. Download a copy.