HFH Singapore Unveils Interlocking Brick Factory On Batam

Bricks Produced Are Used To Build A House For An Indonesian Family

The brick factory on Batam island is funded with a grant which HFH Singapore won in a global contest.

SINGAPORE, 1st December 2011: Habitat for Humanity Singapore has unveiled an interlocking brick factor, funded by a grant from a Singapore foundation, which has started production on the Indonesian island of Batam. Bricks produced are being used to build a house for a family selected by HFH Indonesia.

In October 2009, HFH Singapore was awarded S112,000 (nearly US80,000) to set up a research and production center for interlocking bricks to help build decent and affordable homes for families on Batam.

HFH Singapore was among eight winners of the Lien i3 Challenge, a S1 million global contest for innovative non-profit ideas that have an impact on Asia. The contest was organized by Singapore-based Lien Centre for Social Innovation and supported by Ashoka, which grooms social entrepreneurs, and The Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper.

In Batam, Hadi Raharjo and his family are selected to receive the new house built with interlocking bricks. Hadi, a 74-year-old tapioca seller, is the sole breadwinner in his family. He supports his wheelchair-bound wife and 35-year-old son, who is single and currently unemployed.

Hadi has an older daughter, Sri Rahayu, 50, who works in a factory in Batam and used to provide some financial support until she got married several years ago. Sri lives two houses away from her parents and brother who stay in a house made of board wood and corrugated metal.

(Top) Hadi Raharjo contributing his own labor in the construction of his Habitat house. (Bottom) Hadi’s daughter and wife in their current house just next to the Habitat house being built.

Hadi and his family came to Batam from Yogyakarta about 20 years ago when his daughter found a job on the island. When he first arrived, he brought home 300,000 rupiah (US33) a month working as a janitor and cleaner in a mosque. His wife Ngatimah, 69, was not ill then and ran a grocery store near the local shipyard.

Life became harder when Ngatimah could not walk properly due to a sickness and relies on a wheelchair donated by a school in Batam. Their son Slamet Agus Susetiyo was not employed after his work contract ended three years ago.

The family gets by with what little income Hadi earns from selling tapioca and neighbors’ kindness. They receive a sack of rice, some food items and drinks from people in the community.

“The thought of having a better home to live in never crossed our minds. Living day by day is already a struggle, so we dare not dream about it,” said Hadi. His view changed when HFH Indonesia’s staff approached him in September about building a new home for his family.

“At first, we did feel hesitant since we had never heard of this kind of thing before. But since Habitat has served many families in Kavling Kamboja with their program, we feel confident about this; our hope and dream have been restored.

“There’s no perfect word to describe how I feel except thank you so much to Habitat for Humanity. At the end of our lives, finally, we will have a decent, safe and simple house.”