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HFH Australia Celebrates International Women’s Day With Hand In Hand Build In Nepal

March 24th, 2011

HFH India And HFH China Also Mark Event With Women Builds




HFH Australia’s women supporters tried their hands at various construction tasks, and joined a forum on International Women’s Day before house dedications.

BANGKOK, 24th March 2011: To mark the centenary of the International Women’s Day, Habitat for Humanity Australia was among the various Habitat organizations which organized builds or forums in the Asia-Pacific region.

Heartening words greeted more than 90 women who travelled from Australia to join the Hand In Hand Build in Nepal.

Quentin Bryce, governor-general of the Commonwealth of Australia, noted the contributions of the women supporters of HFH Australia. “I am proud of your leadership and willingness to work hard in challenging circumstances.”

Australia’s premier Julia Gillard also sent a message which was read out at an International Women’s Day forum for Habitat’s women supporters. This read “Adequate housing provides more than just a place to sleep: it gives people a secure foundation on which to build a better future. By helping local women build their own homes you are opening up a new world of opportunity for them, their families and their communities.”

The 92 women supporters of HFH Australia were in Itahari, southeastern Nepal, to build 10 bamboo homes for female-single-headed households.

Each of the supporters also made a donation of A$5,000 (US$4,920) to boost HFH Australia’s fundraising campaign to help 250 impoverished female-single-headed households to make a difference in their lives.

Lianne Manley is among those who came up with creative ways of raising funds. The Sydney resident has neither gone on any Habitat builds nor to Nepal. Manley runs a franchise of the Australian telecommunications company Optus and has tapped her corporate contacts as well as creativity to make donations to Habitat.

Together with her friend and fellow volunteer Jenne Rhynehart, she organized raffles and a Nepalese dinner and sent out email appeals to corporations advertising in local newspapers and radio.

Manley also appealed for funds via an online fundraising page on HFH Australia’s website when she registered for the build in October 2010.

“I chose it as it was quick and easy and as it was hosted by Habitat it gave my fundraising credibility. I was also able to attach the link (to HFH Australia website’s Hand In Hand web page) to my email signature, so every email I send gets the link and the Hand In Hand logo.”

The result was encouraging. “We have used this to put all funds from corporate sponsorship, raffles, individual donations and to date we have reached just over A$9,000 each! (very rewarding),” Manley said in January 2010 in an email interview.

Another supporter, Vivienne Storey, helped to spread the word through her blog. In the sweltering heat, Storey and her team-mates went from being novices to deft hands at what they were doing. “Another woman took to sawing like she’d done it all her life. And others wove like seasoned local builders,” Storey said in her blog.

Check out more photos and blogs at HFH Australia’s Facebook page.

In addition to HFH Australia, other Habitat programs in the Asia-Pacific region celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In southern India, 15 women volunteers from Timken India, which produces anti-friction bearings and related products, worked on a Habitat build.

The build was part of a project to build 150 homes for low-income households headed by women in Hegde Nagar. The project was first launched on International Women’s Day in March 2010 and, since then, about 50 houses have been completed.

“Even though none of us have any experience doing this, we are enjoying ourselves. We know that this Women’s Day, instead of listening to speeches and talking about the ‘situation’ of women, we have done something that will help change things,” Regina Vasudevan, Timken’s head of communications was quoted as saying by local DNA news agency.

Over in Hong Kong, HFH China hosted a Women Build in Tai O fishing village. About 70 volunteers took part, including Hong Kong-based actress and director Crystal Kwok, Hong Kong actresses Sheila Chan and Erica Yuen.

They were joined by 38 executives from Credit Suisse and another 30 individuals. During the three-day build, volunteers helped to remove clutter, re-paint walls and doors and replace wooden roofing boards for five stilt houses.

“This is not the first time I have been to Tai O, but this time, I can see a brand new Tai O,” said Erica Yuen. “From my last visit to Tai O, stilt houses were old and insecure. People there were suffering from unsafe living condition.” Working with other volunteers to replace the roofing board, Yuen exclaimed “What an unforgettable Women’s Day!”

“Much appreciate female volunteers’ help, they’re tough and strong to do the renovation work,” said home partner Wan.