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Building sustainable communities

In October, 130 volunteers joined us to Rock the House in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Our volunteers were of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life and were united by Habitat for Humanity’s vision of a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.

Over a week, they worked side by side families in need of secure housing and local construction workers in the blazing sun and pouring rain to build brighter futures. Here’s a quick look at their week.

Many of the families Rock the House worked with previously lived in windowless homes with dirt floors and bamboo walls. The homes, in some cases, were over 70 years old and had been passed down through generations. Over the years, rains had rotted the roofs creating gaping holes. During the wet season, this meant rain would pour through the roof turning the dirt floor to a sea of mud. To add to these conditions, some families used open fires for cooking in their home but had no ventilation to let the smoke escape creating health hazards. Others described their old homes as “rusted”, “unsafe” and even as “toppling over”.

Many of the families find seasonal work in agriculture and struggle to earn a steady income. Most earn roughly $5AUD a day when they find work, which in most cases is barely enough to go toward the essentials such as food, water and schooling. There isn’t enough to repair their homes, let alone build a safe, new home.

Through the support of our volunteers and their sponsors we were able to make some great achievements over the Rock the House week:

The 12 homes built by volunteers through Rock the House are part of a wider project that will see the construction of almost 800 houses in Selopamioro. However, Habitat for Humanity’s work isn’t just about building homes, but building communities.

As part of the wider project we will be addressing water supply and sanitation issues and providing health and educational services – like teaching financial literacy and livelihood training. This is vital knowledge communities can share with others. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ model and the beginning of generational change.

A home changes everything. A safe home gives families the opportunity to be healthier, happier and more secure, and for children to be better nourished and better educated. A decent home provides a foundation for a brighter, more hopeful future.

Read Ngalim’s story below to see how a safe and decent home transforms lives.

Home is where the start is

Before After
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When asked how having a new, safe and decent home feels, Ngalimin excitedly points to his arm. “See?” he said. “Goosebumps! It doesn’t feel real. It gives me so much hope for my family.”

Ngalimin learned some English while working in Jakarta as a barber and could not hold back his excitement and happiness when describing the impact the home will have on his children, Serly ,7 and Dzaki, 3.

“My children are so excited,” he said. “And so am I. I just want the best for them so they don’t have to experience the struggles I did.”

Ngalimin, his wife, Yulianti and their children were previously living in the same home he grew up in. “It was so small with a dirt floor, bamboo walls, leaky roof and no sanitation,” Ngalimin said. “During the rainy season water would come inside the home. The children would be so scared. Sometimes they fell sick because it was so wet.”

Having experienced the same conditions himself as a child, Ngalimin was determined to one day give Serly and Dzaki a safer place to live.

With the help of Habitat for Humanity, Ngalimin and his family now have a new, secure home, and no longer fears the rainy season.

Ngalimin feels blessed to have received support and has started making ambitious plans for the future to pay it forward and help others in need.

“I am planning to be an entrepreneur. I want to have my own barbershop,” Ngalimin said. “I can hire many people from my village to work in my barbershop and support the unemployed.”

Find out more

Interested in volunteering overseas in Indonesia, or perhaps Cambodia, Nepal or Vietnam? Each year, Habitat sends over 400 Australians to overseas volunteer building projects. Sign up today!
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