Launch of Habitat Young Leaders Build in India

Youth leading the way

From Japan to Fiji, supporters of Habitat Young Leaders Build also play a part and share with  their networks about the need for decent homes

MANILA (Dec. 9, 2016) ─ The great thing about being young is that there are many “firsts”. While Habitat for Humanity’s Young Leaders Build is now in its sixth year, supporters can still score their “firsts”, be it bonding at a youth camp or learning to build disaster-resilient homes. Launched on December 5, the largest youth campaign in the Asia-Pacific region aims to draw 2.5 million supporters to volunteer, raise funds and lend their voices to achieve decent housing for all.

At a two-day camp in Osaka, Habitat for Humanity Japan’s campus chapter members discovered how they could play a part, lead the way and share with their networks about the need for decent housing. Others who had been on Global Village volunteer builds overseas shared about their experiences.

In Fiji, 29 young people attended a three-day “Build Back Safer” training session in Tavualevu village, Ra province. They applied what they learned by working on a house for a family affected by February’s Cyclone Winston. The young people will return to their own villages to train local community members in building stronger, safer homes.

“I count myself very fortunate to be part of this build because this is a great opportunity for youth like us to prove that we are capable of doing a lot of things. We are learning a lot and the ‘build back safer’ techniques taught by Habitat are very informative and a great learning experience as well,” said 24-year-old Sereana Lagilagi.


HYLB 2017 launch in Japan and Fiji
(Left) Japanese university students form the campaign's acronym; Sereana Lagilagi (right, in orange) welcomes the learning experience in building safer homes in Fiji.

The Fijians’ counterparts in India had a similar experience through disaster risk reduction and response training. More than 30 people attended the one-day session organized by Habitat India in Chennai on Dec. 5. The program included a mapping exercise which emphasized the role of youth in mitigating disaster risks.

The HYLB campaign was launched by Habitat India at the
United Nations Volunteers Country Office in New Delhi on Dec. 5 as the latter marked International Volunteer Day. At the launch, Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity’s Asia-Pacific Vice President, said: “Youth today are leaders. They are playing a part, leading the way and sharing with their networks the need for affordable housing to enable families to achieve strength, stability and self-reliance for a better life.”

Hathaway shared the story of 15-year-old Rohini from Maharashtra state who persuaded her grandfather to build a toilet in their home. Through her efforts, others in her village realized the importance of safe sanitation.

In the state that Rohini lives, students demonstrated the concept of M3
– million bricks, million hearts and million smiles – that is central to Habitat India’s HYLB campaign. More than 200 students from Sacred Heart School pledged to be among the millions of volunteers who are taking action to eliminate poverty housing from India.

Meanwhile, corporate volunteers from KKR and Lowe’s took action by building alongside future homeowners in Maharashtra and Bengaluru. In Mumbai, board members of Habitat India showed their support for HYLB by laying bricks on a model “house”.

HYLB 2017 launch in Nepal
Habitat Nepal's Youth Ambassador Ayushman Desraj (third from left) joined volunteers in clearing the land for home construction in Kavre district.

Among the volunteers at the launch of HYLB in Nepal, one person stood out because of his background. “On April 25, 2015, I had lost my house to the earthquake. From that day on, I have been volunteering my time to support people like me who had lost their homes. Volunteering gives me hope and through volunteering I spread hope. I am glad to be here and helping yet another earthquake-hit family,” said Arjan Pradhan, 28, who lives in the capital city of Kathmandu.

Arjan was among more than 80 volunteers who helped to clear rubble and prepare the land for home construction in Paanchkhal, Kavrepalanchok district. Joining the volunteers were Habitat Youth Ambassadors, Santosh Shah and Ayushman Desraj.

In eastern Nepal, Habitat Youth Ambassadors Nirnaya Shrestha and Apekshya Niroula led about 170 volunteers in working on a bamboo house in Sunsari and cleaning a school compound in Itahari.


HYLB 2017 launch in Hong Kong
Students were among volunteers cleaning up 40 homes of the elderly in Hong Kong.

There is another reason to appreciate youth. Grandma Yu, who lives in a public rental housing estate in Hong Kong, said: “I am very happy to have clean windows because I can’t do it on my own.” Her home was among 40 households that were cleaned by more than 170 volunteers mobilized by Habitat Hong Kong on Dec. 4. The volunteers comprised students as well as staff members of banking and financial services firm J.P. Morgan. Singer-actor Wilfred Lau, Habitat Hong Kong’s Ambassador, was also on hand to cheer on the volunteers.

Before the Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign peaks on April 22, there are plenty of opportunities to play, lead and share. Take part in workshops, rallies, runs, volunteer builds, a youth forum, an advocacy grant program or a Twitter party among other activities. Join the Habitat Young Leaders Build community on . Post on social media with the . Follow on Instagram .