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HFH Bangladesh Receives Australian Government Donation To Help Lower Construction Costs Up To 30 Percent

Bangladesh Marks International Women’s Day With Build

SAVAR, 18th March 2010: Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh is set to reach ever poorer families in need with the help of an Australian government grant.

 

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Australian High Commissioner Justin Lee (center) presenting the check to HFH Bangladesh national director Kelly Koch.

 

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Volunteers included staff of the Australian High Commission, an international school in Dhaka and Australian Youth Ambassadors in Bangladesh.

 

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HFH Bangladesh’s Kelly Koch (left) volunteering during Women Build.

 

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Home partner Rumi Begum (center) is assured of her future because she owns the title to the land where her Habitat house will be built.

After a recent build with Australian diplomats and volunteers, HFH Bangladesh received a one-million taka (US$14,170) donation from the Australian government.

The donation, a grant through the Australian government’s direct aid program, is set to be used on a nine-month scheme to allow HFH Bangladesh to adopt compressed interlocking earth block technology at its Durgapur and Savar satellite centers.

Block technology will enable HFH Bangladesh to reduce housing construction costs by up to 30 percent, allowing Habitat to reach even lower-income families.

Much of the natural material required for making the blocks is found in Durgapur and Savar, making the blocks cheaper to manufacture than the fired clay bricks which are commonly used.

Australian High Commissioner Justin Lee presented the check to HFH Bangladesh national director Kelly Koch before he and 25 Australian volunteers built homes with three Habitat families in Savar, about an hour’s drive northwest of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.

The volunteers comprised staff from the Australian High Commission, and International School Dhaka, and Australian Youth Ambassadors in Bangladesh, among others.

Earlier, 40 women volunteers gathered in the same village ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, to mark the annual United Nations event.

This was the second year HFH Bangladesh had commemorated International Women’s Day with a build.

The volunteers, most of whom were from Bangladesh, built alongside three Habitat home partners and women staff of HFH Bangladesh. Before the build commenced, HFH Bangladesh’s Koch said: “It is very exciting to witness you all actively participating to contribute to the lives of other women and their families.”

After the build, the volunteers took part in an open dialogue on issues women face at the workplace and those relating to land rights and inheritance. The dialogue sessions were facilitated by Quazi Baby, founder and executive director of local non-government organization Participatory Development Action Program and Samia Ahmed, director of the South Asia Forum on Responsible Business. Ahmed also had experience with ActionAid Bangladesh.

Among the participants was Habitat home partner Rumi Begum, a worker at a garment factory. She saved enough money to buy 1.5 decimal (60 sq. m.) of land to add to the 0.5 decimal which she inherited from her father.

Begum said: “I think my future is secure because if my two sons do not take care of me when I am old, I would not fear losing this house as I own the title of the land; now we are building our Habitat home on it.”

This was the second Women Build held by HFH Bangladesh. In May 2009, 45 international and local volunteers worked on four houses in the same village. Read about the earlier build.

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