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International Students Help Build Homes In Mongolia

Work on six-house project brings young people new perspectives

ULAANBAATAR, 13th JUNE 2006: A group of nine students from the Ulaanbaatar International School (UIS) spent more than a week earlier this month building homes at two Habitat for Humanity build sites in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Broadening horizons: students from Ulaanbaatar International School working alongside homeowner families at a Habitat for Humanity build site.

Getting the job done: Ulaanbaatar International School students stack bricks and mixed cement for six new Habitat homes outside Ulaanbaatar

The students worked alongside six partner families in the Kombinat area of Ulaanbaatar’s Khan Uul district for the first build, then helped at another five-build site in Ulaanbaatar’s Toilgoit area.

The teenagers, who come from both Mongolia and overseas, mainly assisted masons as they laid bricks for the structures’ walls. They carried bricks, cleaned sand and mixed cement, and fixed Styrofoam insulation to the walls.

The wood-and-brick homes will be 26 sq. mtrs. when they are completed at the end of June.This is the fourth year that UIS student volunteers have worked on Habitat builds in Mongolia, although the groups are usually much smaller.

Suzanne Du Ree, who coordinated the efforts of the UIS students, said “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to offer this experience to our students. It exposes them to the outdoors and hard work, and it will hopefully foster a sense of community responsibility that will remain with them.”

One of the student volunteers, Elena Kovarsky, said “ It’s the first time I have worked on building houses and the first time I’ve helped a needy family. I have learnt so much and it is so interesting. I just wish I could spend more time here helping and learning more.”

In addition to the enthusiasm and sweat of the student volunteers, UIS also donated US$1,000 to HFH Mongolia. 

Charles Jolliffe, executive director for HFH Mongolia, explained: “The partnership between Habitat and UIS provides opportunities for children to use their energy and enthusiasm for the benefit of those in need.”

“It also brings home to Habitat partner families that the community cares. This experience is about more than helping build houses. It helps children understand the challenges others face.”

HFH Mongolia is currently working through local affiliates on eight projects. This is the start of the summer building season, during which the Mongolia program expects to host eleven teams of international volunteers from Australia, the USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, China and Japan.