Arup Community Engagement


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Arup Community Engagement

Project overview

Project overview

  • Habitat for Humanity placement in Pondicherry, India at November 2015 to build 5 houses and 1 community school for Omipper village as a part of continued support for the communities in Tami Nadu area.
  • So Young Hyun from Arup London office travelled to Pondicherry in India to join the build team for rural housing and sanitation improvements that are appropriate and affordable.
  • Placement involved managing the construction including a single-storey house, toilet blocks with soil infiltration systems, and community school facility improvement.

A London-based Arup engineer joined 50 Habitat for Humanity volunteers from around the world to build five houses and one community school in Pondicherry, India in November 2015.

Habitat for Humanity India have been helping more than 55,000 families gain access to decent housing as well as rebuild their homes following disasters since 1983. Supporting Indian families to build their own homes, alongside community capacity building and training, the Global Village project has successfully been helping female headed households create secure and affordable living environments for their children.

In India, where almost half the population earns less than £1 per day, female headed households are frequently denied access to and control over land, limiting their chances of owning a decent home. Their current housing conditions are extremely poor, consisting of rudimentary huts without sanitation facilities. The houses are small and provide no security and protection leaving families vulnerable to theft.

In November 2015, 50 volunteers from different countries travelled to India with one objective – to build homes for people in partnership with Habitat for Humanity India. So Hyun from Arup London joined 48 volunteers from New Zealand and two from Australia and worked together for Omipper village in Pondicherry to build five houses and one community school which is a part of continued supports for the communities in Pondicherry.

The Omipper village consists of 390 households, the majority work as coolies in the agricultural lands – only a few owns agricultural land and others take lands for lease for cultivation. Majority of the poor farmers and women are still deprived by the landlords and some local powerful persons. The knowledge of hygiene, clean water, sanitation particularly toilets are very less. Although most of the children go to government schools, higher education especially for girls are denied.

As the majority of volunteers are construction professionals like engineers, builders or construction managers, the local community has been given the benefits of advanced techniques and equipment by skills exchange alongside safer conditions for the most vulnerable families. Commenting, So Hyun said: “Despite the language barriers and cultural differences to overcome, it was rewarding to be able to put a smile on the faces of the children.”

The volunteers were guided by Habitat for Humanity India site managers who helped organise the build and dealt with any issues as they arose.  Going forward, an online forum for the volunteers has been created to promote future engagement - this therefore opens up potential for future builds. It will also be expected to motivate many more volunteers to support Habitat for Humanity.

Despite the language barriers and cultural differences to overcome, it was rewarding to be able to put a smile on the faces of the children.
So Hyun, Arup volunteer, London
It was fantastic to work alongside so many different people and socialise with a group of people with the same focus and values.
Rick & Diane Wood, Volunteers
The HFH India team would like to thank all the volunteers for their hard work, enthusiasm and their commitment to the cause. Their efforts brought a smile on the faces of our home partners.
J. Anna Charly, Site Manager, Associate Director, Habitat for Humanity India
We have got fantastic reports from the team on the ground about how well everyone worked together on both the homes and school building.
Joanne Moloney, Global Village Manager, Habitat for Humanity Australia

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