- The Habitat for Humanity Australia Mighty Mekong Global Village team built one of the firsts homes in Phu Tho housing project.
- A team of six included four volunteers from Arup who travelled to Phu Tho to build a safe home for the family.
In October 2015, a team of four Arup volunteers from Australia and Hong Kong joined Habitat for Humanity Australia’s first Global Village Mighty Mekong build in Phu Tho province, Vietnam. The project aimed to address four key areas, namely socioeconomic security; access to safe water and sanitation facilities; family health (particularly for women and children); and disaster resilience, by working directly with families and communities in a province where 31.5% of the population (approx. 787 000 people), live below the national poverty line.
Habitat For Humanity has a philosophy that requires volunteers and local workers to work alongside the families involved to aid sustainable development and ensure the local community is given a ‘hand up and not a hand out.’ The benefit of this approach is families can take pride and have a sense of ownership over their new home and what they have accomplished. On this occasion, Arup volunteers worked alongside members of the local community to build a house for a family as part of a wider project looking at housing, water and sanitation for low income households.
Commenting, Arup volunteer Hong Vu said: ‘This was a challenging but very rewarding project. The combination of working in very hot, humid conditions, a lack of any build experience amongst the local team, minimal verbal communication and having to rely solely on manual labour made it hard work. But together, we found a way forward and persevered.
The new house had two separate bedrooms, a living room and external shower and toilet to replace the outside tap they had previously been using for cooking, cleaning and bathing. On the last day, we had a house dedication ceremony and a special lunch with the family and the local government officers who thanked us for coming to help.
The project gave us the opportunity to see firsthand how the build gave hope and encouragement to others that their community was being improved and that there were opportunities available to them that hadn’t been previously.’