Youth supporters call for decent shelter through advocacy projects funded by Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign

MANILA (July 1, 2016) Youth supporters continue to raise awareness of the need for decent shelter in their own communities after the peak of this year’s Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign in April. The largest youth-driven campaign in the Asia-Pacific region rallied over 1.7 million supporters to volunteer, fundraise and speak out for the need for decent homes as a way out of poverty and toward self-reliance.

Habitat Young Leaders Build had earlier called for proposals for youth advocacy projects which attracted a significant number of applicants. A total of 26 grants have been awarded to youth supporters in eight countries. Each of the grants averages about US250.

One of the grant recipients included Syed Naimul Hossan from Bangladesh. He has created a video showing the problems faced by people in Bangladesh who lack shelter. He said “It is important to see what the next generation can do to solve the problem.”

Other projects which have been awarded grants range from sending petitions to the authorities to calling for mock votes from the youth on housing issues. A snap shot of some of the projects is given below.

The Philippines: the youth-led ASEAN Peace Project, a community development program, used the grant to fund talks on peace and urban issues at the Ateneo de Davao University in Davao city, southern Philippines. The event also included a workshop on policy writing, and a panel discussion on poverty and housing in Mindanao island where the university is located.

Nepal: children in an informal settlement in the capital, Kathmandu, created their own drawings based on the theme, “My Dream Home”, after attending an art lesson conducted by a local artist. The art contest was organized by local organization Madhu Sudan Thapa. The children and their parents also watched a presentation on hygiene, sanitation and safe shelter.

Japan: Habitat’s Campus Chapter volunteers are mobilized to clean a shelter for survivors of domestic violence under the Habitat for Humanity Global Village Shelter Project. The volunteers are committed to continue with the cleaning monthly. As part of the grant, a workshop about domestic violence was also conducted for the campus chapter volunteers.

Indonesia: a group of students from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta received a grant for their home design called “Psy-Cul-Lar”. The concept is based on building homes that integrate psychological, cultural and architectural aspects. Such homes will promote residents’ well-being, adopt local construction wisdom as well as feature environmentally friendly elements and include proper sanitation. The group held a photography and essay competition, put up posts on housing issues on social media, and produced informational materials and a video. Watch the video.

Bangladesh: several successful grants were awarded which included one for generating an online survey to gather perceptions on homelessness in the capital Dhaka. Another grant recipient in Bangladesh organized a poverty housing forum which saw participation from a cross section of youth, community leaders and homeless people.

Cambodia: Jay Pritzker Academy, a school in Puok district, Siem Reap province, organized a campaign focused on children’s health. Villagers in four communities in the district were asked to avoid burning plastic around children who are particularly vulnerable to the toxic fumes that are emitted. A Khmer song has also been composed, teaching children to repeat the slogan which translates as: “If you can smell the smoke you are harmed.”

While some of the successful grants involve a one-time event, there are some with the potential to have a longer term impact. Cindy Shandoval, who is part of the group from Universitas Gadjah Mada that won a grant, is looking to raise awareness about Habitat for Humanity in Yogyakarta. She also hopes that there will be housing organizations that will be keen to implement her group’s housing design.