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|Group photo of volunteers in Matale, on World Habitat Day.|
World Habitat Day 2014 theme shines the spotlight on “Voices from Slums”
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (HFHSL) calls on corporates to help improve life conditions in the country with a special focus on those who live in dilapidated housing, encapsulated in this year’s World Habitat Day theme “Voices from Slums”. HFHSL is a registered NGO whose mission is to provide simple, decent and affordable housing to people in need.
On October 6th, World Habitat Day, 24 students and 4 teachers from the American Community School, Abu Dhabi, UAE visited Harduwela, Matale, Sri Lanka to volunteer to build 16 homes for families in need. The homeowners worked with the volunteers to complete their houses.
In addition, 21 students and 3 teachers from American School in Doha, Qatar joined staff from HFHSL in volunteering to build a home for a family in Palagalakanda, Galle. The volunteers will stay for a week in Sri Lanka assisting 11 families; building homes, communities and hope.
|Elissar Haidar; volunteer for Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka|
One of the most productive homebuilders in the country with over 20,000 families served since inception in 1995, HFHSL is committed to creating a better standard of living for those in need, despite race, religion or political beliefs. To mark World Habitat Day on 6 October, it joins the United Nations and organisations around the world in raising awareness, educating and mobilising individuals and communities to take action on the current global housing crisis.
Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate shelter around the world. According to United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), more than four billion people live in Asia currently, and of this number, UN-Habitat states that 523 million live in slums.
While a decent home is a basic human right, many Sri Lankans live below the poverty line, with an entire family crammed in a room with tin sheets as walls, no electricity, leaking roofs, little to no sanitation and no privacy, which negatively impacts education, relationships and health.
HFHSL works with families who live in unfit or inadequate housing and help them achieve better housing. The organization hosts programs whereby individuals or groups can sponsor a home, project, a component or make a one off or monthly donation. HFHSL also has the infrastructure to accommodate long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships with corporate partners.
HFHSL offers a more engaging method of contributing through its volunteer program. Encouraging findings state that every volunteer decreases the cost of a build by 5-10% and a 12 member team working 32 hours a week can provide the unskilled labour required to complete an entire house.
Emphasising the importance of reaching out to make a difference, President of the Board, Ramesh Schaffter said: “It is important for not just the corporate sector, but for students and other bodies to realize that we have the responsibility to ensure every Sri Lankan has access to secure shelter with basic levels of sanitation facilities and water. It is also critical that we realize that providing this is within our power. HFHSL offers corporates and other groups the very rewarding opportunity to make a difference through a variety of programs such as Sponsor a Home and Hands for Humanity.”
HFHSL also has a disaster response program which assists families who are affected by natural or manmade disasters. One of its largest such project is ‘The Indian Housing Project’, in partnership with the government of Sri Lanka and funded by the Indian government, to construct 4,000 houses in the East of Sri Lanka for IDPs.
In her role as Brand Ambassador for HFHSL, Otara Gunewardene highlights the widespread effects of inadequate shelter, reminding corporates and individuals of the unequal living standards in Sri Lanka, and opportunities HFHSL provides to alleviate these conditions: “World Habitat Day is the one day set aside annually to recognize the basic right of all humanity to adequate shelter, and to encourage grassroots action toward ending poverty housing.
Act Now! Volunteer, Donate and Advocate with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and let’s work together for a Sri Lanka where everyone has a decent place to live!”
Operating on a model where families contribute with labour and get involved in building their own homes, HFHSL continues to build homes for people who would otherwise be living below the poverty line. Every four minutes, Habitat for Humanity worldwide serves a family in need of better housing and has helped more than four million people since it was founded in 1976. Habitat for Humanity works in more than 70 countries worldwide supported by one million volunteers each year.
The HFHSL website www.hfhsl.org provides additional information on opportunities to assist the cause in Sri Lanka.
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka
Since 1995, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has assisted more than 20,000 families by building and improving homes and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. HFHSL’s Habitat Resource Centers (HRCs) located in the east, west, south and central regions of Sri Lanka aim to assist low-income families, as well as families affected by disaster and/or are displaced by conflict, to build and improve homes utilising local resources and local labour.
For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.hfhsl.org or follow facebook.com/hfhsl