Vietnam Time

11/8/2018 10:14:03 AM

Over 200 international volunteers build houses for poor people in Dong Thap

Over 200 volunteers from 19 countries are building houses for poor people in Cao Lanh city of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap as part of the Vietnam Big Build 2018 program carried out by non-profit housing organisation Habitat for Humanity Vietnam (Habitat Vietnam).

 International volunteers join the Vietnam Big Build program this year. (Source: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam)

Over the week from November 5 to 9, 239 international volunteers from Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Vietnam and the United States have been working alongside local families for the construction of 21 safe and decent homes, helping tackle the issues of housing and sanitation in the area.

This year, Habitat Vietnam run Vietnam Big Build in partnership with the Dong Thap Union of Friendship Organisation and Cao Lanh authorities, and sponsorship from Habitat for Humanity Canada, Thrivent Financial and Metlife Foundation.

The program began with an opening ceremony on November 4, followed by five days of building, and a closing on November 9 with local and provincial government, donors, homeowners and the volunteers expected to attend.

Volunteers work alongside Habitat homeowners and local masons. (Source: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam)

WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS

Local volunteers have also been joining the week-long effort, which is being held in Vietnam for the third time. “It is wonderful to see such a large group of new and returning volunteers. With every brick laid, every load of mortar mixed, every gesture of encouragement or smile exchanged with a homeowner or fellow volunteer, I hope a new house will be a turning point with lots of opportunities for homeowners,” said Kelly Koch, national director at Habitat Vietnam.

"I work for a German association of home builders and developers. We got in contact with Habitat one and a half years ago, then we decided to make a project together. Habitat’s work is really connected to our brand. We are home builders and we are developers and from our perspective, working with Habitat fits really well. I got really fast feedback that a lot of people want to be part of Vietnam Big Build,” said Andreas, a Habitat for Humanity Deutschland volunteer.

"Home is very important for us in Germany. It means safety, family, everything. I think this is very important that people are able to give something, help other people who have nothing. From my perspective, we have to engage more and more companies in giving a little bit," he added.

"I just graduated high school last year, and I’m taking the year off before going to university next year. I’m taking this year to decide what I want to do, to learn some things about me, and then to travel also. The places our family's always traveled go off the beaten path a little more, which we’ve always liked to be able do in all our travels. So it’s nice to be able to do that and help build something for this family. It was really interesting just seeing that and experiencing a different culture and a different way of life. I like being on site with the family. I like seeing how they live—their house now, and how maybe we can help improve that," Sarah, 18, a young volunteer join the program with her father, said.

"I’ve done two other Habitat for Humanity builds in Guatemala. I built with my daughter Sarah in the last build in Guatemala which was two years ago, and then I built with my older daughter two years prior to that. The motivation at first was just to help people out in the local community. I think housing’s very important and it could change people’s lives.

"I knew that my daughter had some time away from school this year and I wanted to go on a service trip with her. I love to travel and I think that helping out the people in the country that we go to gives us a better feel for the country we’re visiting. For me, it provides a connection with the country I’m going to and a connection to the people and doing it with my daughter gives me a connection to my daughter. And to me, it’s all about the connection. The Vietnam Big Build is an extremely worthwhile thing to do, and it's very satisfying and gratifying to see the work we have done--the work of building day by day an actual house for the people we're working with. Very gratifying!," said David, 59, engineer.

A local homeower helps volunteers. (Source: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam)

MUCH-NEEDED HELP

According to Rick Hathaway, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity in Asia-Pacific, Dong Thap has been specially selected for this year’s Vietnam Big Build because the region is suffering from climate change, so it has large demand for decent and affordable shelter.

“We are old and we wish nothing but a safe shelter to be comfortable for the remaining days of our lives”, said Be, one of the homeowners who received support from Vietnam Big Build this year. “I’m thankful that there are helping hands coming to our house and making our lives better.”

"When we learned that we were chosen to become Habitat homeowners, we prepared by securing the piece of land on which to build the house. We cleared and cleaned the site, so it's ready for the volunteers. The night before they arrived, I couldn't sleep because I was excited," shared Nguyen Van Hon, a local homeowner who was selected by Habitat Vietnam.

"I was at the market selling vegetables during the first day, so I was not able to meet the volunteers. But when I came home, and I saw what they have done, I was so inspired. Today, I stayed here, and helped at the site," said Thi Muoi, another Habitat homeowner.

Since it came to Vietnam in 2001, Habitat has enabled more than 14,600 low-income Vietnamese families to improve their living conditions through decent homes, clean water and safe sanitation. Habitat Vietnam has also provided training in areas such as disaster preparedness, financial education, and hygiene practices to more than 120,000 individuals./.

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