Established in 1988, Habitat for Humanity Australia is a non-profit, non-governmental social development organization. Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
Their work transforms communities through providing safe, decent and affordable housing. The impact is seen through improved health, better performance in school, greater economic opportunities and increased community cohesion.
As a not-for-profit, global organisation, builds simple, decent and affordable housing in partnership with people in need. The Hand in Hand project is a two-year project to construct 250 houses, 250 toilets and 60 wells for female headed households in Nepal. To start the project, Habitat for Humanity enlisted the help of 100 Australian women to each raise $5000 and to travel to Nepal for a week to work with Habitat for Humanity Nepal, to build the first 10 houses.
Female headed households in Nepal are among the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population. In the daily struggle to meet their basic needs, children from these households are likely to forgo educational opportunities to supplement their family income, making them particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
These houses would provide a life changing experience for the families who were scraping by on less than US$2 per day and living in cramped, rudimentary huts with minimal access to clean water and sanitation facilities. With the first 10 houses completed, these homes have already changed the lives of ten Nepalese women and their families by providing enhanced security and access to safe water and sanitation facilities
In support of this project, Arup donated $20,000 and sponsored four women from the Australasian region to make the journey. Angela Williams from Melbourne, Clarice Fong from Singapore, Emma Synnott from Sydney and Anna Nicholson from Brisbane were also involved in fundraising activities to assist with airfares and additional contributions for building materials and labour costs.
Houses were constructed using local tools, bamboo and mud render and the Australian women worked alongside the local women who had been selected for the new houses, which Habitat calls home partners. The home partners had to contribute 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ (working on their own home and the homes which Habitat for Humanity Australia will build in the future in their region) plus an amount equivalent to a third of the value of their home (approximately $1200) in a micro finance loan. The experience was both powerful and moving for all involved.
As Angela Williams reflects: “Phulesari, my house partner, formerly lived in a small and insecure and leaking structure. Our team worked alsongside her to build a simple two roomed house and over the week saw her transformation from a shy woman with a racking cough, to a proud and smiling woman who seemed confident of a brighter and healthier future for her and her stepson.”
The experience was both powerful and moving for all involved.