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Looking forward to new homes -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Looking forward to new homes

By Hiew Peng Wong

Many families learned just this week that they would live in the new Qionglai low-income rental housing project Habitat volunteers are working on.

Li Hongsheng and her husband, Lee Binggui, will live in the new apartment building Habitat volunteers are working on this week in Sichuan, China. Lee is unable to work because of a disability; Li sews and sells cross stitch designs. They have a 10- year- old son.

 

Zheng Youzhen, who drives a trishaw, thanks volunteers and officials because her family will move into one of the units in a new complex for low-income families. Habitat volunteers start one of the buildings in the complex this week during CWP2009.

 


That was good news for many families who had to move often because they could not keep up with their rent.

Thirty-five-year-old Lee Binggui and his wife Li Hongsheng, together with their 10-year-old son, used to move from one rental unit to another because they could not afford a house or apartment.

"Over the years, we have moved from the east to the south to the west and the north," said Hongsheng, adding that they have rented since they got married in 1999.

This week Hongsheng, 40, and her husband received news that they have been selected to be tenants in the Qionglai low-cost rental housing project. "I never dreamed that this day would come," Hongsheng said.

The family used to be crammed into a one-room house, enduring smoke from the charcoal used for cooking and the inconvenience of a toilet and shower located outside the house.

Hongsheng's conversation was peppered with thanks to the local government and community leaders for showing concern and relieving their housing burden. The government subsidizes rental fees for families.

Although Hongsheng's husband walks with a limp because of a disability, he will contribute sweat equity, or his own labor, to work alongside Habitat volunteers at the Qionglai site. The work will not be entirely novel as Lee used to be a construction worker.

Looking to the future, Hongsheng, who earns a small income from sewing cross-stitch designs on fabric, said that if the family continued working, they will “have a better tomorrow. I hope my son will do well in school and be able to contribute to society, to repay what we have received."

Zheng Youzhen, 56, is also concerned about the future of her only son, Chen Ning, 28, who works as an odd job laborer. The family is beset by health problems. The 62-year-old husband Chen Shuiqing has been frail since an operation to remove kidney stones 15 years ago. Youzhen suffers the same ailment but has not sought treatment.

Youzhen's family will also be a tenant in the Qionglai low-income rental housing project, but she has longer-term aspirations, "I hope to have my own house. That will help my son's marriage prospects."

The Carter Work Project build in Qionglai city will pave the way to meeting the housing needs of many more families. That is why about 170 volunteers are pressing on in Qionglai despite the bone-chilling weather and slick muddy ground.

Hiew Peng Wong is an editor/writer for Habitat for Humanity International Asia Pacific.