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HFH Singapore Completes Paper Brick Houses In Advocacy Event

It Will Vie For Title Of World’s Largest Paper Brick House Under Guinness World Records

SINGAPORE, 25th June 2007: For the thousands of people who thronged Singapore’s biggest shopping mall over the weekend recently, the unusual sight of five paper brick houses was enough reason to step out to the plaza for a closer look.

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Cooperation: Student volunteers helping HFH Singapore to attempt a Guinness feat by building the world’s largest paper brick house.

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(Top): Aerial view of the five Tetrapak houses built at the plaza of Vivocity.
(Bottom) Volunteers setting up the angle bars that formed the frames of the Tetrapak houses.

Made of more than 45,500 Tetrapak drink packs, the houses were part of Habitat for Humanity Singapore’s Build4Hope advocacy and fundraising event. Build4Hope was also a curtain raiser for the completion of the 1,500th house in Meulaboh town, along the northwestern coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, under HFH Singapore’s tsunami recovery project.

The frames and roofs for the houses, designed to resemble the houses in Meulaboh, were put up at Vivocity’s open-air plaza by volunteers from the Singapore Polytechnic. Each day, some 200 students who were on vacation worked in shifts to build the houses’ walls with MARIGOLD drink packs, donated by Malaysia Dairy Industries. First-time Habitat volunteer Tan Sheue Ying, an 18-year-old student from Victoria Junior College, said: “The event is a good idea – the ‘houses’ are big, visible and attract attention.”

Hopefully, it will be more than the public’s attention that was grabbed. HFH Singapore will submit its houses to the Guinness Book of Records to vie for the title of the world’s largest paper brick house.

The completion of the Tetrapak houses was due to the generosity of the public and business corporations who donated S$2 (US$1.30) per “brick”. Many people also walked up to HFH Singapore’s booth to drop tens and even hundreds of Singapore dollars into the collection boxes. Those who made greater contributions also took part in a donation draw with the air ticket prizes donated by Cathay Pacific.

At Vivocity’s indoor atrium, HFH Singapore also mounted a photo exhibition of its work in tsunami recovery projects in Meulaboh as well as Habitat’s work around the Asia-Pacific region. The vivid photos contrasted the grim reality of poverty housing with the bright smiles of Habitat home partner families who were assisted by HFH Singapore and its partner, the Singapore Red Cross.

The visual impact was enhanced by a new video by Singapore singer A-Do (pronounced A-du), performing the first Mandarin song written for Habitat for Humanity. Penned by local recording label Ocean Butterfly’s founder Billy Koh, the song “Xin Jia” (“New Home”) featured the use of Indonesian musical instruments, a recognition of HFH Singapore’s tsunami recovery projects in Meulaboh. (Read a translation of the lyrics). A-do, who is popular in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, also performed the song on the opening of Build4Hope on 8th June 2007.

Build4Hope was opened by Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s minister for community development, youth and sports. Offering his congratulations to HFH Singapore and the Singapore Red Cross, Balakrishnan said: “Singapore is proof that a tiny nation can have a big heart. We are a society that not only takes care of our own, but also those who live around us and beyond.”

He added that S$70 million of the more than $80 million raised by the Singapore Red Cross’ Tidal Waves Asia Fund has been committed to recovery work for tsunami relief. The people of Singapore donated about S$14.3 million (nearly US$8.7 million) to the Singapore Red Cross, which will pay four-fifths of the costs for Habitat tsunami projects in western Aceh.

The event was closed by S. Dhanabalan, a former Singapore minister and patron of HFH Singapore. HFH Singapore national director Yong Teck Meng said: “Operationally, it has been a great success. We received very good media coverage as well.”

Build4Hope was covered by Singapore’s major daily newspapers in four languages as well as broadcast by local television networks Channel News Asia and Channel 8, and radio station 93.8.