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World View | International news | September 2011 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

World View | International news | September 2011

Numbers on the map above correspond to the numbers below.

Picturing a new future for vulnerable children
In early April, The Ara Gallery opened in downtown Dubai with a powerful exhibition highlighting the work of Habitat Lesotho. The grand opening featured a charity-driven art auction led by Christie’s in which six artists donated pieces to help raise more than $44,000 for Habitat Lesotho’s efforts to provide homes for orphans and vulnerable children.

The auctioned artwork came from the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “Through the Eyes of Africa’s Children,” which was put together in partnership with Habitat. Last year, more than 50 children who had received assistance from Habitat Lesotho were asked to take photographs of what makes them happy. The pictures were used by Emirati artists to portray their understanding of the lives of these children.

The $44,000 raised is enough to provide comprehensive housing assistance to 10 households caring for an estimated 50 orphans and vulnerable children. The gallery also has produced a book, The Children of Lesotho: Through Their Eyes, featuring the children who inspired the exhibition and benefiting Habitat’s work.

Vulnerable children in Lesotho — those under 18 years old who have lost one or both parents or whose caregiver is unable to provide adequate care — face many hardships, among them the lack of decent shelter.


Brother and sister Tumelo and Nthoto Molefi live outside Maseru in Lesotho,
where Habitat for Humanity builds homes for orphaned and vulnerable
children who are in need of decent shelter. Photo by Lawrette McFarlene.

In 2009, Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors, joined by CEO Jonathan Reckford, gathered to lay foundations for a housing complex in the central Macedonian city of Veles. The goal of the project: create 11 buildings that would provide affordable homes for 90 families.

Today, four buildings are in the final stages of construction. They will house 24 families who have taken an active part in the construction alongside local volunteers and more than 500 Global Village volunteers from the United States, Canada and Europe.

Earlier this summer, Habitat Macedonia and its partner families signed formal contracts, paving the way for families to move into each of the new homes as they are completed. The ceremony featured the mayor of Veles, Goran Petrov, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Phillip Reeker. After the formalities, partner families, volunteers and dignitaries spent the day building together on site.


Indigenous communities make up the most poverty-stricken demographic within Mexico. Of the nearly 14 million indigenous people in this nation of cultural contrast and diversity, an estimated 80 percent suffer from “high” or “very high” levels of marginalization.

Habitat Mexico has launched a long-term project to serve rural and semi-urban indigenous communities in seven states. Housing services include new construction, roofing repairs and other house improvements. Extra housing solutions — “eco-stoves” and finished flooring — also have been developed to address common challenges. All are accompanied by education in community development and financial literacy.

“I am a Raramuri woman and single mother,” says Alicia Villaloboz Ruiz, who lives in the northern state of Chihuahua. “Habitat helped me to build my house. It is an organization that helps people who have few resources but a lot of willingness to change how we are living.”


Great Britain
A 10-home build in Banbury will provide housing and training opportunities for local young people without access to education, employment or training. The enhanced arrangement is possible thanks to partnerships with several local agencies, including the Cherwell District Council and Oxford and Cherwell Valley College. The joint enterprise has also attracted funding from the nation’s affordable housing program.

The main task of the local Southwark Habitat affiliate is managing the construction site and ensuring that high-quality training opportunities are provided during the construction process. Ten one-bedroom flats are being built with a mixture of skilled subcontractors and young people, who can earn a national-level college award through the experience. Each young volunteer also will be assisted by a college tutor and a life-skills mentor provided by another local agency, Connexions.


United States
The first week of May once again proved to be a busy one for thousands of Habitat’s women volunteers. Leading up to the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States, 250 Habitat affiliates celebrated the annual Lowe’s-sponsored National Women Build Week.

In New York City, women and girls painted a community center as part of the local affiliate’s A Brush with Kindness program. In Orlando, Florida, more than 450 women volunteered on five homes throughout the week. Oregon’s Habitat Portland/Metro East affiliate held a Mother’s Day build. Sara Moskovitz braved the mud to work alongside her mother, Gloria Harper, installing siding. Moskovitz says she signed-up because “it was what my mom said she wanted for Mother’s Day.”

The week generated considerable attention from some high-profile volunteers, too. Actress Emily Bergl built in Charlotte, North Carolina, and actress/author Lisa Whelchel joined the action in San Angelo, Texas.


November’s five-day Khmer Harvest Build will result in 20 new houses in Oudong for families who used to live at a municipal dumpsite in the capital of Phnom Penh. The houses will be built on secure land, each with sanitation facilities, a rainwater-collection tank and solar-energy panel.

Help for the event is coming from many quarters. Habitat Germany has committed 17,000 euros (USD$23,900). The United States is sending Global Village volunteers, and affiliates such as Massachusetts’ Habitat Greater Lowell and Colorado’s Habitat St. Vrain Valley have pledged $25,000 and $50,000 respectively.

Habitat Cambodia also is working with International Children’s Care Australia to develop a farm next to the new houses, where partner families will be able to grow fruits and vegetables, and raise chickens and fish.


Volunteers will help build 20 houses during November’s Khmer Harvest Build in
Cambodia. Photo by Mikel Flamm.

In the northern village of Ali Abad, the lives of Habitat partner families are intertwined with the age-old tradition of carpet weaving. The intricate craftsmanship of Afghan carpets reflects the rich heritage of an art long passed from generation to generation.

Eighteen-year-old student Zahra Husain grew up joining her mother, sister-in-law and younger sister in weaving carpets to supplement the daily wages her father brought home as a laborer. “After my mother passed away, we chose to shell peas for a living. Shelling peas is not a decent-paying job, but the fact that each of us receives 20 Afghani in cash on a daily basis is helpful,” Zahra says.

Today, Zahra’s family lives in a Habitat house that means being able to resume carpet-weaving to supplement the family income. She continues to juggle work with her studies. “I am determined to press on because I am optimistic about the future,” Zahra says. “Our home will be the foundation on which my family and I can build a better life.”


On a quiet morning in May in the southern city of Toliara, a group of residents picked through the ashes where their homes had stood the night before. In this impoverished nation off the coast of Africa, fire is one of the main enemies of the millions of slum dwellers who live in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Much slum housing is pieced together with wood and reeds — usually intended to be temporary structures that simply become permanent dwellings.

Stanislas Manahadray’s family doesn’t have to worry about the threat of fire like they used to. Manahadray has finished the sweat equity on his new, brick Habitat home — one of 139 houses completed in the past three years and a house that will make him “stand tall and hold his head high,” he says.

His two children, Marie and Mario, go to school nearby, but still have to walk through the cramped pathways of the slum area. In the rainy season, these pathways become difficult to navigate through the mud and water. To help, Habitat Madagascar paves mud-prone pathways and builds drainage channels in addition to its construction and renovation efforts.


United States
When 16-year-old Annie Kuster walked into Raritan Valley Habitat’s office last year, she came with a bold offer: the environmental enthusiast volunteered to raise the funds and materials needed to install solar panels on a Habitat home being built.

The Bridgewater, New Jersey, affiliate’s construction director Bob Miller explained that they were working on nine homes together in one neighborhood. Since that meeting, the high school junior has persuaded renewable energy companies in the area to donate about $150,000 in equipment and engineering. By this fall, all nine Habitat homes on Dutch Lane will be complete, with 35 solar panels atop each roof.

To Kuster, the most rewarding part was getting to meet the families who would benefit. “It’s important to remember that beyond the equipment and the engineering, there are people,” she says. “They grew to be my driving force behind the project. It was about giving them the opportunity to have as fulfilling a life as possible.”


Annie Kuster examines an electrical component donated to Raritan Valley Habitat
that allows solar panels to be installed on a home as a complete unit. Photo courtesy
of Raritan Valley Habitat.