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Indonesia Looks Set To Complete Targeted 1,000 Houses In Earthquake-Hit Yogyakarta

Smart Response Allows HFH Indonesia To Raise House And Funding Targets

YOGYAKARTA, 10th January 2007: Racing ahead of schedule, Habitat for Humanity Indonesia is poised to achieve its target of building 1,000 houses for survivors of May 2006’s massive earthquake in Central Java.

Fresh start: Habitat home partners from Kralas, standing proudly in front of their new house.

Satisfied: volunteers from local firm PT Lautan Laus, Tbk, learned to sieve sand.

New hope: Sukarjo’s youngest daughter Evi was paralyzed from the waist down because of the earthquake. The family recently moved into their new Habitat home.

As of December 2006, a total of 460 houses had been completed and nearly 270 houses were under construction. In July 2006, HFH Indonesia had unveiled a one-year plan to build 1,000 initial core houses for earthquake affected families in Yogyakarta.

The progress can be put down to several specific reasons. First is the ability to harness “gotong royong” or a strong grassroots spirit: almost all the labor for rebuilding a community comes from within that community.

Second is the availability of sufficient architectural or construction expertise. This helped in the design of houses that minimizes cost but fulfils the need for earthquake-resistant structures. This approach plus the re-use materials has trimmed one-third off the cost of a house.

Another factor has been the HFH Indonesia’s ability to secure project funding speedily. Supporters, both corporations and individuals, came forward readily, enabling Habitat to determine project goals and budgets quickly. Lessons learnt from Habitat for Humanity’s rebuilding program in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami were applied and expedited the startup of the rebuilding project for Yogyakarta. Strong and well-structured teams on local, national and regional levels also enabled an early response to assess and plan what needed to be done.

Heartened by the progress and encouraged by the community, HFH Indonesia has increased the target to 1,500 houses to be built by the middle of 2007. Currently, US$1 million has been raised for the rebuilding project; another US$500,000 will be needed to complete it.

The target includes building 500 homes adapted to the needs of the disabled. Building on the first houses will begin shortly in a partnership with fellow non-governmental organization CARITAS, the Roman Catholic aid agency.

Stepping forward to lend their support to the rebuilding work have been corporate giants such as Nokia, GE, DOW Chemicals, ABC Group, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Cargill Indonesia and PT Lautan Luas.

For the villagers of Kralas, this year’s Ramadhan took on a different and deeper meaning. All the homeowners have settled into their new Habitat homes through the 60-house reconstruction project carried out by HFH Indonesia’s Yogyakarta affiliate and sponsored by telecommunications company Nokia.

Said Saring, sub-village head in Karlas: “Usually villages visit one another [during Ramadhan]. But because we are living in difficult circumstances, only families and close relatives are coming. However, we are very thankful because at least we have a house to host them.”

Another friend of Habitat, Cargill Indonesia has sponsored and help build alongside the home partners 57 houses that are in the final stages of completion. Of the 57 homes, eight will be owned by Cargill’s employees whose homes were devastated by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

At the Turen Village, a team of volunteers from PT Lautan Laus, Tbk, a leading Indonesian chemicals company, supported the reconstruction of 50 houses through roofing, wall plastering and painting. The volunteers had the opportunity to interact with the villagers during a community-wide games carnival.

Novita Widyawati, a volunteer from PT Lautan Luas, Tbk, said: “This experience gave us a new knowledge about how to build a house and work as a team. Also we see directly, the benefits of houses for the community.”