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At home with hope

May 15, 2012

An extraordinary initiative brings together thousands of youngsters to build homes for people living in some of the deepest pockets of despair across the Asia Pacific region.

This was labour of love at its quintessential best. In just one day 4,000 young Habitat for Humanity volunteers brought cheer to the lives of 500 poor families in India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand by building homes for them.

In Delhi over 100 volunteers joined in this social endeavour in the resettlement colonies of Bhalaswa and Savda Ghevra, where the initiative was inaugurated by Mrs Kiran Mehra Kerpelman, Director of the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, which supports Youth BUILD in India.  Among the good Samaritans were committed individuals and teams from The Salvation Army, Bloomberg, Whirlpool, Madhok Foundation, local churches and the Delhi Bikers Breakfast Run group. The initiative took off amidst the roar of Royal Enfield bikes on which many young volunteers arrived for a day of hard building. 

Located on the north-western edge of Delhi near a huge land-fill site, Bhalaswa holds slum dwellers evicted from the Yamuna Pushta area of Delhi. Habitat for Humanity has been working to build and improve housing in the area with its partner Chetanalaya for a number of years.

Abigail Anubha Lal, a 22-year-old Delhi University student who was among the volunteers at Bhalaswa said: “I’ve thought a lot about Habitat and the way they help the homeless. I’ve also thought about how it would feel to be in such a position - without a home. Building homes implies building lives.”

Savda Ghevra is a semi-rural resettlement colony about 28 kms out west from Central Delhi. Habitat for Humanity India is building 41 homes here for differently-abled men and women who live on the streets of south Delhi, under flyovers and bridges.  Their homes are coming up on plots allotted to them at the end of many years of hard struggle led by the Madok Foundation which partners Habitat for Humanity India. 

The project is being funded by a grant from The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, Delhi-NCR Chapter (CREDAI NCR) and the HDFC bank. As part of Youth BUILD, 12 young volunteers and a teacher from the Habitat Club of La Martiniere School will paint murals at the St Elizabeth Girl’s School & Orphanage. 

The simultaneous multi-country build event marks the culmination of the five-month long Habitat for Humanity Youth BUILD campaign to raise funds for homeless people in the Asia-Pacific region. Tens of thousands of young people used their social and digital networks and mobilized funds from more than 300,000 people. “We have been overwhelmed by the great online response to the Habitat Youth BUILD campaign.”, said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president for Habitat for Humanity International. “Having a decent home can transform lives, as it opens the doors to improved health, better performance in school, greater economic opportunities and increased community spirit.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 500 million people in the Asia-Pacific region live in slums, representing more than half of the world’s slum dwellers. Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Through its innovative shelter based programmes Habitat for Humanity reaches out to 82 countries worldwide.

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