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International volunteers build houses for poor people in Dong Thap
The Saigon Times Daily
Wednesday,  Nov 7, 2018,15:50 (GMT+7)

International volunteers build houses for poor people in Dong Thap

The Saigon Times Daily

Foreign and local volunteers work together to build houses for low-income families in Dong Thap Province - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY VIETNAM

HCMC - Around 230 volunteers from 19 countries are building houses for poor people in Cao Lanh City of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap as part of the Vietnam Big Build 2018 program carried out by non-profit housing organization Habitat for Humanity Vietnam (Habitat Vietnam).

Over the week from November 5 to 9, they have been working alongside local families for the construction of 21 safe and decent homes, helping tackle the issues of housing and sanitation in the area.

Local volunteers have also been joining the week-long effort, which is being held in Vietnam for the third time. “It is wonderful to see such a large group of new and returning volunteers. With every brick laid, every load of mortar mixed, every gesture of encouragement or smile exchanged with a homeowner or fellow volunteer, I hope a new house will be a turning point with lots of opportunities for homeowners,” said Kelly Koch, national director at Habitat Vietnam.

Habitat Vietnam is running Vietnam Big Build in partnership with the Dong Thap Union of Friendship Organization and Cao Lanh authorities, and sponsorship from Habitat for Humanity Canada, Thrivent Financial and Metlife Foundation. The program began with an opening ceremony on November 4, followed by five days of building, and a closing on November 9 with local and provincial government, donors, homeowners and the volunteers expected to attend.

Three international volunteers join the Vietnam Big Build program this year

"I work for a German association of home builders and developers. We got in contact with Habitat one and a half years ago, then we decided to make a project together. Habitat’s work is really connected to our brand. We are home builders and we are developers and from our perspective, working with Habitat fits really well. I got really fast feedback that a lot of people want to be part of Vietnam Big Build,” said a Habitat for Humanity Deutschland volunteer identified as Andreas.

"Home is very important for us in Germany. It means safety, family, everything. I think this is very important that people are able to give something, help other people who have nothing. From my perspective, we have to engage more and more companies in giving a little bit."

According to Rick Hathaway, vice president of Habitat for Humanity in Asia-Pacific, Dong Thap has been specially selected for this year’s Vietnam Big Build because the region is suffering from climate change, so it has large demand for decent and affordable shelter.

Members of a local family who have got a new house pose for a photo

“We are old and we wish nothing but a safe shelter to be comfortable for the remaining days of our lives”, said Be, one of the homeowners who received support from Vietnam Big Build this year. “I’m thankful that there are helping hands coming to our house and making our lives better.”

Since it came to Vietnam in 2001, Habitat has enabled more than 14,600 low-income Vietnamese families to improve their living conditions through decent homes, clean water and safe sanitation. Habitat Vietnam has also provided training in areas such as disaster preparedness, financial education, and hygiene practices to more than 120,000 individuals.

International volunteers gather at the launch ceremony of Vietnam Big Build 2018


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