Japanese youth volunteers with future homeowners in Cambodia

Creating a positive impact

MANILA (Feb. 5, 2024) — “I want to take meaningful action in helping build and strengthen the community, leaving behind a positive impact on those who are less privileged,” said Jerhuy Shen-Puoy, a volunteer student from the International School of Phnom Penh. He was among more than 13,000 people in eight countries who supported Habitat for Humanity’s largest youth movement in the Asia-Pacific region in 2023. About 470 families were served through the construction of 95 new homes and the repair of three community facilities. Supporters also raised a total of more than US$257,000. During the multi-month Habitat Young Leaders Build, Jerhuy helped Habitat for Humanity Cambodia in rallying other young volunteers in fundraising and constructing decent homes.

Youth volunteer Jerhuy Shen-Puoy in Cambodia

Jerhuy Shen-Puoy, pictured on a build in Cambodia, has the community in mind when he extended a helping hand.

Helping neighbors
Local volunteering remains a strong component of the campaign that is currently in its 13th year. Students and young professionals work alongside community members to construct new houses, declutter, deep clean or repair orphanages and homes of families in vulnerable conditions.

In India, Habitat’s youth ambassador and Miss India 2019 Muskan Lund led fellow youth in supporting the campaign. A volunteer with Habitat since 2015, she speaks up and raises funds for the cause of affordable housing in India.

Others showed support in different ways. The Canadian International School of Hong Kong donated HK$45,000 (more than US$5,700) and their students helped older people to improve their living conditions through Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong’s Project Homeworks.

International impact
The 2023 campaign also marked the return of international youth volunteering in select countries since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Habitat for Humanity Japan sent more than 270 youth volunteers to Cambodia and Vietnam through the Global Village program. Besides building homes alongside local families, the volunteers also learned of the country’s housing need and the impact of inadequate housing on a family’s safety, health and financial stability and children’s educational opportunities.

Juntoku Koda with other Japanese volunteers on a build in Cambodia

Juntoku Koda (bottom left) with other Japanese volunteers on a build in Cambodia

“I was shocked by the reality that some families cannot live together because they do not have a decent home. At the same time, I realized that even we, as students, could help so that the family could live under one roof,” said Juntoku Koda, a student at Hosei University who worked on homes in Cambodia. He quoted a future homeowner saying to the volunteers on the last day of their build, “Thank you for coming from Japan to build our home. Now we can live with our children. It’s like a dream come true.”

Ryusei Masuda (third from left) with his certificate of participation in a build in Vietnam

Ryusei Masuda (third from left) with his certificate of participation in a build in Vietnam.

Ryusei Masuda, from another Japanese team, shared about his experience in Vietnam. “Building a house means building a future.”

2024 campaign

The latest campaign was launched on International Volunteer Day on December 5, 2023, with a social media activation. In February 2024, Habitat will turn the spotlight on the need for secure, affordable housing. The online event “Amplified,” an initiative of the 2024 Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign, will showcase the winning housing solutions of five young leaders and provide an opportunity for volunteers to virtually interact with other young leaders in the region. Please support the campaign by contacting the local Habitat office in your locality.