No greater reward

By John Abraham, Habitat for Humanity India volunteer, Habitat Global Hero and Indian film star

 

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I am no stranger to the spotlight after working as an actor and model for more than 10 years. In 2006, it was my turn to be the captive audience. That was in Lonavala, western India, when I volunteered on a Habitat build during the Carter Work Project. I met former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and I was amazed by his energy.

It was also then that I realized the value of a home. The lady of the house which I helped to build came to me, smiled and said, “Thank you.” Simple gratitude for a small gesture — that is the greatest gift you can receive from anybody.

I have a media platform, and I want to exercise it responsibly. I have partnered with Habitat India and launched a campaign called “Join John’s Brigade.” Our aim is to inspire action from students, young professionals, the young-at-heart and all those who think that everyone deserves a decent place to call home.

Since 1983, Habitat has changed the lives of more than 35,000 families in India by providing safe, decent and affordable homes. The number of people who need decent housing in India remains staggering. Given the great need, Habitat India has launched IndiaBUILDS — A World Of Hope Campaign to tap Indian and global resources for serving 100,000 families by 2015. The areas of growth are in housing needs, advocacy, program sustainability, disaster mitigation, and response and capacity building.

Fulfilling the vision is a team effort. The Habitat India team, corporate leaders on the IndiaBUILDS advisory committee led by Mrs. Rajashree Birla and the dynamic Women IndiaBUILDS committee members are all pulling their weight. I may be the face of Habitat in India, but they are the real drivers.

We want people to know that Habitat exists in a very big, very credible way. Habitat has got a great cause and a sustainable model.

I believe in causes — animal rights, medical care and even fitness, which I am particular about. There is personal satisfaction in these.

But there is no greater reward than when someone thanks you for building their home. It is similar to the feeling you get when people said they like you in a film. Only the joy and gratification are much, much more.