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For The People

Families who deserve decent homes are the reason why thousands of Habitat Youth BUILD volunteers are supporting simultaneous, multi-site builds on April 27


hyb_nepal_april2013_web.jpg(Top) Sabitri Chaudhary (right) and her husband Sabur Lal (center) long to be responsible parents who can provide a decent shelter for their children. (Bottom) The Chaudharys’ house is in danger of collapsing in stormy weather.

BANGKOK (April 19, 2013) — Habitat for Humanity Youth BUILD 2013 is a campaign which strives to raise awareness and funds to fight poverty housing by building homes and communities, on build sites and online through the social networks of young volunteers.

Habitat Youth BUILD is not just about big goals and impact, it’s about the people — the thousands of families who live in the worst imaginable conditions but who deserve a decent place to live. We share the stories of a few of them.

In Nepal, more than three million families live in poor housing conditions. Sabitri Chaudhary, 36, is among them. Home to  Sabitri, her husband Sabur Lal Chaudhary, 37 and their four children is a small 17-square-meter (180-square-feet) house that is in danger of collapsing in the next big storm. The house has mud walls and floor, no windows and a door which cannot be locked.

The whole family sleeps on a thin mat on the ground. Whenever their house bcomes flooded during the annual monsoon season, they have to beg their neighbors or relatives to take them in. 

Due to the inadequate and unhygienic living conditions, Sabitri’s children often have fevers, colds and stomach problems.

Both Sabitri and her husband work as unskilled laborers on a construction site and a farm. Their combined daily wage is just above US$3,  scarcely enough to cover food, clothing and education for their children.

Sharing her dream about having a decent home, Sabitri  said: “The word ‘parent’ is a respected and responsible word but it doesn’t mean anything until we have fulfilled the basic needs of our children. I believe we can provide a safe future for our children only when there is a safe shelter for them. We are longing to be responsible parents so that our children will have a place to rest and play. We won’t let our hopes die and are waiting for the day when our children will see sunshine through the window of their new home.”

That day will come sooner for families like Sabitri when more than 10,000 young Nepali volunteers across 32 districts put their heart and energy into house construction and neighborhood clean-up activities on April 27.

Cambodian Yob Yov, 39, his wife and six children are crammed into a tiny dilapidated shack near the city dumpsite in Phnom Penh. There is a constant stench and the ground is usually muddy. There is no toilet in the shack.


Be they Cambodians like Yob Yov’s children (left) or Chinese such as Yi Jintian (right), they all need a decent home to live.

Yob Yov scrapes a living together by scavenging for items in the Steung Meanchey dumpsite which can be sold to recycling companies. To supplement his income, he also repairs bicycles but his earnings are still not enough to support his family. On a brighter note, his family and others are looking forward to the construction of a holistic community called “Smile Village“ about 11 km from the city center of  Phnom Penh.

Smile Village will  provide decent and affordable rental homes as well as educational and vocational training facilities for children and teenagers, green communal spaces, markets and community centers.

Habitat Youth BUILD volunteers will jump-start the construction work for the Smile Village project by helping to build a sewage system and plant trees to create shade in the future. When completed, Smile Village will serve some 330 families.

In southern China, Habitat for Humanity will engage young volunteers in building decent homes for villagers who are currently living in mud houses. The work of the volunteers for Habitat Youth BUILD will improve the lives of families in Shuiweidong and Liangkou villages in Guangdong province.

Yi Jintian, who lives in Liangkou, worries constantly for her safety in bad weather. Tiles from the roof of the widow’s mud brick house are often blown away during heavy storms. She earns some money by growing tangerines for sale and  gathering wood in the mountains but it is not enough for house repairs.

These families’ lives are set to improve when Habitat Youth BUILD 2013 engages tens of thousands of supporters in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal and the Philippines. Join 10,000 young people in simultaneous builds on April 27, 2013, and even more friends online. ‘Like’ the Habitat Youth BUILD page. Follow twitter updates with #HabitatYouthBuild. Donate and fundraise on