Habitat for Humanity Singapore
Habitat's work in Singapore
Singapore News and Stories
Habitat for Humanity Singapore begun operations in response to the urgent reconstruction needs following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. Since its inception, HFH Singapore has continually mobilized volunteers under the Global Village program for building projects and disaster response all over the world including Malaysia, Indonesia, China and India. In Singapore, the Project HomeWorks program seeks to improve the living conditions, safety and sanitation facilities of a growing number of vulnerable elderly across the island. To date, HFH Singapore has mobilized a total of more than 18,500 volunteers in over 700 builds in the Asia-Pacific region and over 1,300 home improvement projects. HFH Singapore is also involved in fund raising and advocacy for Habitat projects in the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world
Housing needs in Singapore
Before the Singapore government established the Housing & Development Board (HDB) as the country’s public housing authority in 1960, only 9 percent of the population was living in low-cost public housing. Today, more than 80 percent of Singapore’s population lives in high quality HDB flats and approximately 90 percent of these residents own their flats. In 2012, the Singapore government announced that there were over 35,000 vulnerable elderly living alone. This number is likely to increase to 61,000 by 2020 and 83,000 by 2030. Living conditions for these elderly people, who typically reside in one-room estates, are poor as many are unable to care for themselves.
How Habitat addresses the need in Singapore
The Project HomeWorks program was conceived to improve the living conditions of the elderly, the sick and the disabled living in one-room flats all over the island. Volunteers are mobilized to clean up homes, make minor repairs and ensure facilities meet safety standards. Since 2006, more than 6,800 volunteers have participated in over 1,300 home improvement sessions. In addition, HFH Singapore raises awareness of the need to eliminate substandard housing through high-profile events such as Bare Your Sole. An annual charity walk, Bare Your Sole enables participants to empathize with impoverished families who often go without shoes. This event also raises funds to support Project HomeWorks as well as Global Village builds and disaster response programs. HFH Singapore has partnered with several corporations, charitable foundations and non-governmental organizations. Singapore-based celebrities such as Paul Foster, Eunice Olsen, Corrinne May and Anita Kapoor lend their support as HFH Singapore’s ambassadors. Members of campus chapters, a few of which have been established in local tertiary institutions, also volunteer, raise funds and advocate for Habitat.
International volunteer builds
Teams of volunteers from Singapore are regularly sent on Habitat’s Global Village trips to build homes in the AsiaPacific region and other parts of the world. To date, HFH Singapore has mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers who took part in more than 700 building projects. Popular destinations include Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal. Due to its close proximity, HFH Singapore has embarked on sustained developmental projects in Indonesia’s Batam island.
Habitat for Humanity Singapore piloted the Project HomeWorks program in order to improve the living conditions of elderly people residing in one-room flats across the island. Volunteers dedicate their weekends to cleaning, refurbishing and making minor repairs to these homes as well as to befriending the elderly. In 2014 alone, over 400 HomeWorks sessions were conducted. The complementary Youth@HomeWorks program provides mentorship to youth volunteers in Project HomeWorks.
Bare Your Sole
Bare Your Sole is an annual barefoot charity walk to raise awareness about the plight of impoverished communities in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the event was launched with 300 participants in 2009, it has gained visibility and momentum over the years. The sixth Bare Your Sole event took place in June 2014 and was attended by some 5,000 participants. The event raised over S$300,000 (nearly US$220,000) to support HFH Singapore’s work domestically and abroad.
Habitat for Humanity Singapore sent the first teams of volunteers to worst-hit Aceh, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Funding support from Singapore Red Cross enabled HFH Singapore rebuilt homes in Aceh as well as in Sichuan, China, and West Sumatra, Indonesia, following the 2008 and 2009 earthquakes respectively. Altogether, HFH Singapore has raised S$30 million (US$22 million) for post-disaster reconstruction projects around the world as well as supported the construction of 2,500 houses and 20 water projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Meet a Habitat family
On a rainy day in Hanoi, Anu Sundaram and eight other Singaporean volunteers decided they would embark on a build with Habitat for Humanity in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Overcoming challenges such as raising project funds and extreme weather conditions, the team was extremely humbled by the realization that they were building a concrete house that would provide a family of seven —- supported only by a sole breadwinner and previously housed in a small fourwalled traditional “ger” – with much needed shelter from the harsh elements. Throughout the build, the family showered love and care on the volunteers. Hardened mare’s cheese and Mongolian salty tea magically appeared during breaks accompanied by the toothless smiles of the family’s toddler and her grandmothers. As the volunteers and homeowners celebrated the completion of the house in a praise ceremony on the last day, Anu was especially moved when the grandmother of the family related how they had dreamed about and waited for a proper house for 13 years. “An idea is worth nothing until it has been executed. For us, this meaningful journey started with a single conversation and resulted in a house being built for a needy family,” said Anu. Note: Habitat for Humanity no longer works in Mongolia.
Population: 5.6 million (July 2014 est.)
Urbanization: 100 percent lives in cities
Life expectancy : 84 years
Unemployment rate: 1.9 percent (2013 est.)
Population living below poverty line:16 percent (2010)
Access to improved water sources: 100 percent
Access to improved sanitation facilities 100 percent
Access to Improved Water Sources: 100% (2009)
Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 100% (2009)
Source: World Factbook