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Reflections from the Young Professionals Build

Habitat for Humanity staff member, Lara recently returned from the Young Professionals Build in Yogyakarta, Indonesia – read her reflections from the build.

On the 9th of September, 19 Young Professionals from PIMCO and Aurecon flew into Yogyakarta from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It was Habitat for Humanity’s first Young Professionals Build and we think it was a huge success!

After a welcome dinner on Saturday night, the volunteers arose early on Sunday, loaded into two buses and headed off to Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour outside of Yogyakarta. Borobudur is a 9th century, nine platform Buddhist temple that is topped by a central dome and surrounded by 72 Buddha statues – definitely an impressive site! Walking up, down and around the monument worked up a thirst (and our appetites) so it was back on the buses to a beautiful lodge perched on a hill and surrounded by rainforest for a relaxing lunch.

Monday morning marked the first day of the build. After a 7am breakfast at the hotel, and a late night full of laughs, we piled back on the buses and headed 25km out of town to the small community, Selopamioro. Selopamioro is in a hilly area and home to 4,615 families. The majority of families are from a low-income background with a 45% unemployment rate. Many of the houses are made out of woven bamboo with mud floors and only 50% of the homes have a functional toilet. That said, the villagers could not be happier and more welcoming – a true testament to the fact that happiness isn’t always reliant on money.

Over the next four days we worked tirelessly digging trenches, sifting sand, mixing concrete, and laying bricks. It was an incredible experience to work side-by-side our partner families and physically help them to build their first home. The gratitude was overwhelming. At 10:30am every morning a delicious Indonesian snack would appear on the build site to feed the hungry volunteers. A constant stream of tea and coffee was on offer which we later found out the families had chosen to pay for themselves. Despite having so little, their generosity and warmth was overwhelming and we were incredibly grateful for their hospitality.

When we weren’t sweating it out on the build site we were exploring the local surrounds and chatting to the community members. One of the highlights of the trip was playing a game of soccer with the children from the village who took their football very seriously – probably the only time we’ve ever seen a 9 year old shout so passionately at a CEO. After the game, we handed out chocolates to the children who scoffed down the sweets as if they hadn’t eaten in a week. We later found out that it was the first time they had ever tasted chocolate, not because they don’t sell chocolate in the village, but because their parents have never been able to afford it.

On Friday we had the handover ceremony – where we shared lunch with our partner families and thanked each other for such an incredible experience. Our families asked if they could keep a framed photo of our group in their house – saying that they would never forget us. I don’t think we will ever forget them either.

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