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HFH NZ Affiliate Raises NZ$28,000 for Pakistan Earthquake Survivors

Habitat distributing winters kits to 100 families living in HFH NZ-funded shelters

HAMILTON, 9th March 2006: When more than 300 women in Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island built a house in just four days in November 2005, they did more than break a Habitat record for a Women’s Build. They also lent a hand to raising funds for Pakistan earthquake survivors.

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Mobile fund-raising: HFH Waikato volunteers collecting donations for Pakistan earthquake survivors

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Concerted efforts: Habitat staff distributing some of the winter kits (in blue bags) to survivors in Balakot

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Strengthened: Survivors getting help from Habitat staff in covering their winter shelters with plastic sheets from the winter kits.

Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of many others in Hamilton, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s Waikato affiliate raised a total of NZ$28,000 (US$18,200). Of this amount, NZ$8,000 had first been sent to Pakistan soon after the earthquake hit and NZ$20,000 went to the provision of winter shelters for the survivors.

HFH Waikato felt particularly for the victims of the 8th October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Their empathy is also because of their close association with a mission family who used to live in Pakistan, said Charlene Robertson, resource development manager of HFH Waikato.

As HFH Waikato had already sent two Global Village teams to tsunami-hit Sri Lanka, it could not send more volunteers to Pakistan. Instead, its CEO Pete North initiated a fund-raising effort for the Pakistan earthquake victims in the Hamilton community of 130,000 people.

HFH Waikato was then planning to hold a Women Build to break the previous Habitat record of five days for a build held by American women building teams. “It seemed opportune to tie in fund-raising for the Pakistan disaster with this event as we had the entire region’s attention,” said Robertson.

Accordingly, speeches highlighting the earthquake victims’ plight during winter were made during an open luncheon celebration for the Waikato Women Build. Flyers appealing for funds were also distributed among the 140 distinguished guests.

During the Women Build week, volunteers stood at traffic lights with buckets to appeal for donations from pedestrians and drivers of cars.

Then in November 2005, HFH Waikato sent out an appeal letter requesting for funds to help Pakistan earthquake victims cope with the imminent winter.

With the money raised by the affiliate, matched by a similar sum from Habitat for Humanity International, winter shelters are being constructed for 100 families in Balakot, about 200 km. north of the capital Islamabad. The shelters are made of corrugated sheet metal with insulation strapped onto a specially designed steel structure.

In another heart-warming move, the Habitat Resource Center in Balakot is also distributing winter kits to families who are living in the HFH NZ-funded winter shelters. About 300 of the 500 winter kits have been distributed to these families by Habitat staff.

Provided by the International Organization for Migration (IMO), each winter kit includes:

Plastic sheet – As a cover for the open sides of the winter shelters as well as for the stuff which are left out in the open. For those living in tents instead of the winter shelters, the plastic sheet helps to stop the tent from leaking.

Steel bucket – For storing water and carrying water around. A key item as the people who had lost most things have resorted to using their remaining utensils to store and carry water.

Three blankets – Help survivors to keep warm in winter when the temperature at night often drops below freezing.

Rope – Made of thin nylon, it can be used for various purposes including tying up bundles wrapped in the plastic sheet.

The IOM is an inter-governmental organization which is working in Pakistan to provide tents, shelter materials, blankets and other logistics support to earthquake survivors. The Habitat Resource Center is currently requesting for another 1,000 winter kits from the IMO to be distributed to the families in the shelters. More than one kit will be distributed to larger families.

The Habitat Resource Center has also tied up with Morning Star Development which will be delivering food packages to those who are living in Habitat winter shelters. Morning Star Development is a non-profit community and economic development organization that is supplying emergency food and blankets to more than 1,000 affected families in a village near Balakot.

Still, much remains to be done. Additional shelters are required because the survivors who are living in tents made of thin cloth have to contend with leaks when rain falls.

To further protect against the cold, Farhan Mall, Habitat for Humanity’s representative for Pakistan, says stoves and heaters can be given to the survivors so that they can keep themselves warm.