Volunteers from Canadian International School on a Habitat build

#HabitatYLB on a roll

MANILA (March 22, 2019) — Youth supporters are ramping up their efforts with less than a month to the peak of Habitat for Humanity’s eighth annual Young Leaders Build. Hundreds of supporters have built homes as well as raised awareness and funds in the Asia-Pacific region’s largest youth campaign.

In Nepal, the Philippines and Cambodia, young leaders have participated in leadership training sessions designed to empower them to implement and manage projects that support affordable housing and sustainable communities.

Here is a select roundup of various activities across 17 countries and one Special Administrative Region since Habitat Young Leaders’ Build was launched on December 5:
Bangladesh: on March 9, more than 20 volunteers from the American International University-Bangladesh worked on two homes in Berua village, Gazipur district. The university’s Khilkhet campus was the venue of the campaign’s launch in December. More than 40 students and other youth joined representatives from Habitat and its partner organizations including MetLife Bangladesh to learn about HYLB and share their experiences in volunteering.

Students from American International University-Bangladesh on a build in Gazipur district.

Students from the American International University-Bangladesh volunteered on a Habitat build in Gazipur district.

Cambodia: Habitat has named actor and TV host Vy Yaro as its youth ambassador as it continues to train more young people under Habitat Young Leaders Build’s Leadership Academy program.
Fiji: Canadian volunteers kicked off the Habitat Young Leaders Build — supported by long-term donor Aqua Pacific — on December 5 with their house build in Sabeto in the capital Nadi. Fijian youth also took part in a Habitat poster competition and creatively expressed their idea of volunteerism; a child protection training session jointly conducted with Save the Children Fund; gender inclusiveness in disaster response training together with CARE with the support of DFAT; and data collection training in collaboration with Ground Truth Solutions for tracking the number of people whom Habitat has served and for monitoring community feedback.
Hong Kong: actors Michael Tong and Venus Wong worked together with other local volunteers to clean the homes of older people under Habitat Hong Kong’s Project HomeWorks program.
Japan: campus chapter members took to the streets in December to raise funds for Habitat Japan in 13 different locations across the country.
Nepal: in December, 138 youths and journalists built homes alongside three families on separate sites in Jhapa, Morang and Saptari districts in the east. The event was organized by Habitat Nepal and its partners Jeevan Bikas Samaj, Sahara Nepal and Mahuli Community Development Center. A few weeks later, 15 young people from the Leo Club of Ithahari Green City helped to make minor repairs and paint the exterior walls of the house of a family that has a member with learning disabilities.
Philippines: Habitat supporters spoke up for the cause of safe, affordable housing through the Habitat Young Leaders Build’s advocacy grants. One of the organizations that won the 2018 grants rolled out the first phase of its advocacy project titled ‘Art in the Park’ in December. The Bistekville 1 Youth Organization’s members are children of Habitat homeowners who have been living in the community since 2015. Through their activity, the young leaders aim to share their experience as slum dwellers and the positive impact of a decent home after their parents became Habitat homeowners. The next phase of their advocacy project involves mobilizing students in neighboring schools and other young people from their community to produce paintings near the Philippines’ Congress in Manila to raise awareness of local laws on land tenure and housing.

Children of Habitat homeowners in Bistekville, Philippines, showing their artwork on decent housing.

Recipients of the 2018 Habitat Young Leaders Build’s advocacy grants with the children of Habitat homeowners in the Philippines showing their artistic takes on the positive impact of decent housing. 

Vietnam: students from 10 schools have raised US$25,000 for the youth movement. They are also partnering with Habitat to build homes, raise awareness about water, sanitation and hygiene, and know more about Habitat’s work through the Young Leaders Build. “Having shelter contributes a lot to child development. The home improves a child’s quality of life in the future. With decent shelter, a child is protected and less exposed to dangers,” shares Yu Jin Moon, a Habitat volunteer from Canada International School in Vietnam.

Among the key initiatives of the HYLB campaign are the advocacy grants. The awardees for the 2019 grants have been announced recently. Through their projects and initiatives, those advocates will speak out about the need for systems and policies to address housing and land tenure issues, as well as gender and property rights, slum upgrading, and disaster resilience.

Meanwhile, youth empowerment is the buzz word as the #HabitatYLB Leadership Academy continues to be rolled out in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nepal. In partnership with local youth organizations, the youth trainers imparted leadership skills to other young people in communities, enabling them to become volunteer leaders who are able to implement projects that build homes and sustainable communities in their own neighborhoods.

“I’m happy and I’m inspired by the HYLB Leadership Academy because I really want to help young people. This program will be a big help, especially when it comes to developing leadership skills in the youth. It equips and empowers them to lead no matter their station or status in life,” said Benjie, 25, who joined a training session in January. “Filipinos say, ‘the youth are the hope of the future’, but many times nothing happens for us. With the HYLB Leadership Academy, I think that we are empowered. We have a weapon, such as the community action plan, to help meet challenges.”

Over in Nepal, 18 local volunteer facilitators gathered in January 2019 to reflect on their experiences facilitating the HYLB Leadership Academy modules in their own communities and with partner organizations. They also discussed how to effectively guide Nepali youth in implementing projects for safe shelter as well as the latter’s community action plans.

The multi-month Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign continued in February and March when international volunteers join the Asia and Pacific Builds in Myanmar and Fiji respectively to build decent, affordable homes with local families.

Young individuals and organizations in Asia-Pacific may contact the local Habitat offices in their country to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Donations to the campaign may also be made through the crowdfunding site at http://bit.ly/Give2HYLB19.

Join the Habitat Young Leaders Build community on Facebook bit.ly/HabitatYLB. Post on social media with the hashtag #HabitatYLB. Follow on Instagram @HabitatYLB.