BANGKOK (May 10, 2013) ― Before the dust had settled on Habitat for Humanity’s largest volunteer campaign in the Asia-Pacific region, there is talk of a bigger and better Habitat Youth BUILD 2014.
Just as this year’s movement built on the results of the inaugural campaign in 2012, Habitat Youth BUILD is eyeing big goals next year. Bold dreams are necessary because the need for decent housing is great ― the vast numbers of families living in intolerable conditions are a stark reminder.
Habitat Youth BUILD 2013 has resulted in more than 600 families securing decent housing. The efforts of tens of thousands of volunteers, both onsite and online, were vital to the campaign.
By the time the two-month online and offline campaign peaked on April 27, 2013, the numbers far exceeded expectations. On that day, a total of 14,000 volunteers worked on simultaneous builds across 42 sites in seven Asian countries ― China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal and the Philippines.
Hundreds of thousands more supported Habitat Youth BUILD online through their social networks, raising awareness and saying ‘no’ to poverty housing.
Throughout the entire campaign, Habitat engaged its partners including fellow NGOs, corporations and businesses, government agencies and individuals to fight poverty housing.
Among the participating countries, the efforts of first-timers HFH Nepal, HFH Cambodia and HFH Japan were most commendable. In Nepal, Habitat’s vision was to kick off their own national youth movement through Habitat Youth BUILD 2013 by engaging Nepali young people beyond the campaign.
HFH Nepal’s initial target was 10,000 volunteers for the April 27 build. But with the support of 34 local partners, ranging from churches to schools to civic organizations, Habitat mobilized close to 88,000 people ― to build, rehabilitate, clean, hold hands, sign and pledge to do their part for decent shelter in the country.
At 10.05 am, a song specially commissioned to highlight the plight of three million Nepali families in need of housing and a Habitat Youth BUILD message were aired by 66 radio stations nationwide. While the song was played, groups of youth linked hands in solidarity.
Post-Youth BUILD, HFH Nepal’s partners planned to keep doing good by organizing monthly builds and regular community clean-ups and planting more fruit trees.
Over in Cambodia, Habitat also had more youth volunteers than expected, thanks to an overwhelming response fueled by zeal and exuberance. By getting popular local singer Aok Sokunkanha onboard for the Habitat Youth BUILD campaign, HFH Cambodia was able to tap her influence to reach out to even more supporters.
On April 27, Sokunkanha worked with 600 volunteers at the 240-house Smile Village project in Phnom Penh, challenging fellow young Cambodians to collectively declare that they will continue to fundraise to support the work of Habitat.
Habitat Youth BUILD was kicked off in March with an animated video, followed by an online T-shirt design and vote challenge which attracted much response. More than 57 entries were received and over 2,000 online votes were cast for the favorite T-shirt design. Cambodian student Lymei Sun, 18, described the inspiration for her popular T-shirt design: “The words are like bricks and cement needed to build up a true home – a home that will provide hope, love, courage, happiness, protection and so much more.”
In Japan, volunteers raised around 530,000 Japanese yen (approx. US$5,370) through fundraising activities for Habitat’s ‘Rebuilding Japan’ program. The funds went toward families affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
During their three-day trip in April to disaster-hit communities in northeast Japan, 34 volunteers presented a check to community leaders, met with residents and local students, and built benches and tables for Kibo no Akari (Light of Hope), a temporary shopping street that is part of a community revitalization project.