2014 Annual Report: A message from the CEO
“For families around the world, positive changes are taking place…”
At Habitat for Humanity, we are committed to help exponentially more people improve their housing situations, because we believe that adequate and affordable housing is foundational for breaking the cycle of poverty. I get excited when we develop strategies that will make life better for millions of people and transform entire communities.
The part of my job that I love the most, however, is when I get to talk with some of those people whose lives have been changed in so many different ways because of a new or improved house.
I think about people like 65-year old Tania da União, whom I met in Recife, Brazil. She suffered from asthma and had repeated bouts of pneumonia because she lived for many years in homes with mold and terrible ventilation. Habitat Brazil helped Tania access microcredit so she could install a window, put on a new roof and create some ventilation. Since then, she has not suffered from pneumonia once. Because her home enables her simply to breathe fresh air, her life is so much better.
I recall a conversation I had with William Tandongfor and his family, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Cameroon. The $492-a-month mortgage payment on his Habitat home in Atlanta is much more affordable than what he previously paid in rent for a much smaller place. He no longer has to work two jobs, so he can be with his children at night.
William told me that his five children all made straight A’s in school, and he says having a place to study and play has been an important part of their success. Since moving into their home, William has earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and advanced in his job.
For homeowner Soy Lorng in Cambodia, having a roof over her head is a great blessing. She told me recently about the difficult night she spent before the dedication of her new home. Her family previously lived in a makeshift shelter near a dumpsite. She had only a tarp to protect all the family’s belongings, and she spent the night standing up, trying to keep the rain out during a storm.
The next day, when we all gathered inside her new concrete-block home, the pounding rain started again. Soy Lorng examined the ceiling with such relief that not a drop of water seeped in. Having four walls and a real roof means she can sleep in peace.
In fiscal year 2014, we passed an important milestone: Since Habitat’s founding in 1976, we have helped 1 million families improve their housing situation. Our long-term goals at Habitat for Humanity are to build impact so that millions more people will be lifted out of poverty. I believe God also smiles at our everyday joys that come when individuals breathe easier, sleep better, enjoy more time with their children and live better.
For families around the world, so many positive changes are taking place — because of a house.
Jonathan T.M. Reckford
CEO, Habitat for Humanity International