NOW! JAKARTA | Building Homes, Changing Lives

Building Homes, Changing Lives

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A house and having a roof over one’s head is a basic need and something important to the life of every family. But in the rural kampungs in the hills above Sentul City, a retreat for wealthy Jakartans, people live in houses that offer neither protection or safety.


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Habitat for Humanity Indonesia is a non-profit organization that believes that having a shelter is a primary need. It is a way to be safe, dry and break the cycle of poverty. Living in a society where the social divide is immense, Habitat Indonesia makes a big difference for those in need.  Every year Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) students raise enough funds to build eight to twelve decent new homes. Here are two reflections from JIS students about their experiences:

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Building Relationships through Service
by Hannah Chalmers; Grade 12; Co-President of the JIS Habitat for Humanity Club

“On my first visit I was told a horrifying story of a family who lived in a dilapidated wood and bamboo house. Every night, rats would come and nibble on the children’s skin. Since then, the family has moved into a Habitat for Humanity house. Now they can sleep safe and protected - and in peace.

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Going on Habitat builds has really given me insight into the lives of the people in rural Indonesia. Just getting to the building site is an experience as our bus must go down steep and rocky roads. During the rainy season the rain can flow downhill at a rate that terrifies me and the other volunteers. Once we arrive at the site, we immediately get to work. We typically have a short opening ceremony to introduce ourselves to the local community including the family for whom the house is being built. Then we split into groups and start working. We may be painting, digging a foundation, mixing cement or preparing steel reinforcement for the walls - it all depends on the task at hand. It is a wonderful experience to work side-by-side with the local people who appreciate our efforts and also enjoy us as a source of entertainment! It’s a lot of fun and we always feel welcome.”

A New Home, A New Quality of Life
by Natalie Ivanova; Grade 12; Co-President of the JIS Habitat for Humanity Club

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“I have been on many Habitat builds throughout my high school career. However, there is one that sticks out from the rest. It is important to me because it was the first time that I felt an intimate connection with the local community.

Whenever I go on builds I usually focus on the task at hand, but this build was different. As we were painting, a few drops of rain transformed into a torrential downpour. Our teacher told us to stop working and wait out the storm in a shack next to the house. I sat down on the bench, completely soaked, and heard one of the volunteers from the kampung say, “Follow me!” I immediately got up and followed him to a rice field. We sat down in the pouring rain, and he told me how grateful he is that Habitat for Humanity is for supporting his village. He said that he had talked to many families who live in new houses and they feel more secure having a sturdy roof over their heads and a solid floor under their feet. Some of the women in the village are now able to safely leave their homes and work a few hours each day. This has generated extra income in an area where people earn about US$2.00 a day labouring in the rice paddies. This is just one of many examples that illustrates how a new home can have a positive impact on a family’s quality of life.”

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Providing families with a decent home can open up a new world of opportunities. If you are interested in supporting Habitat for Humanity Indonesia, you can find more information at:  http://www.habitatindonesia.org/

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