HYLB volunteers

Harnessing the power of youth

MANILA (April 13, 2019) — Thousands of youth across the Asia-Pacific region will play a part, lead the way and share on social networks as Habitat for Humanity’s Young Leaders Build peaks on April 13. In its eighth year, the region’s largest youth movement continues to rally young people through volunteer builds, advocacy events, and more in support of affordable housing.

Youth groups and volunteers in Bangladesh, China, Korea, Indonesia and Nepal will be building homes alongside families and communities this weekend. Throughout the month of April and May, supporters will fly the Habitat Young Leaders Build flag high through other builds and fundraising activities in Cambodia, India, Fiji, Japan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Rick Hathaway, Vice President for Asia-Pacific, Habitat for Humanity International says, “The power of youth is pivotal in building homes and communities in a diverse region like Asia-Pacific. As a result of their dynamism and creativity, we have heard amazing stories of transformed lives. Thanks to the youth — our leaders of today and the future — Habitat is energized and inspired to continue building strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.” 

In the Philippines, art served as a medium to raise awareness of inadequate housing through some former slum dwellers’ experiences. The initiative by the Bistekville 1 Youth Organization, a winner of the Habitat Young Leaders Build’s advocacy grants in 2018, will be expanded this year to target different audiences. They plan to display their art in a park in front of the Philippines’ House of Representatives with the aim of educating the public about housing laws. “We believe that this will draw the attention of people who work in Congress. Through art, we will create conversations within their ranks,” shares Peter Joshua F. Forndozo, president of the youth organization. 

In Nepal, a recent advocacy grantee will be organizing a "youth parliament" in southeastern Province 2. Through that platform, youth group Rastriya Dalit Network Nepal aims to influence land, housing and disaster management policies to help vulnerable groups such as the Dalits. Since the devastating earthquakes of 2015, the youth have also supported Habitat Nepal’s emergency response, and its work in homeowner-led reconstruction and in increasing communities’ resilience against future disasters.

These initiatives and other youth advocacy projects supported under the Habitat Young Leaders Build have the potential to reach about 100,000 people. 

In Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, young people raise funds and call for support in different ways. Many campus chapter members from Japan go on Global Village trips to locations such as Myanmar and Fiji to build homes while their peers take to street fundraising. Thousands of young people in Korea have raised funds for local and overseas projects through creative cookie fundraising workshops and campaigns on social networking sites. Over in Hong Kong, Habitat mobilizes youth volunteers to clean homes of older people and other vulnerable groups in their community, do street fundraising and build houses in China.

Since 2012, 12.5 million Habitat Young Leaders Build supporters have raised US$7.5 million to help more than 29,000 families to achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. While the 2019 campaign peaks in April, the momentum will continue with a Youth Congress in Thailand in September. The special initiative is part of the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, a multi-sector conference organized by Habitat for Humanity.