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  • WHEN BambangSudarmono learned thatHabitat for Humanity(HfH) was helping to builda house in his in-lawsvillage, he went over tohave a look and make someinquiries. He even foundtime to pitch in and help.

    The 31-year-old mentalhospital nursing aide andfather of three thensubmitted his ownapplication for a house, wentthrough the interviewprocess and got the nodwithin a month. Thebuilding started on July 10.

    It was on my birthday,Bambang beamed.

    I want to thank Habitatfor Humanity for makingmy dream come true.

    He explained that afterrenting for nine years, hewas more than ready to havea home of his own. HfHmade this possible by way ofsome very reasonableconditions.

    When thesundaypost paida visit, students fromSwinburne University ofTechnology had teamed upwith a couple of backpackers(who happened to be inSoutheast Asia) to buildBambangs house. They

    There were no wallswhen we arrived, he said,pointing to the half-completed house. I learneda lot of things about buildinga house this week.

    Wilson Liew, 20, valuesthe experience.

    We get to contribute tothe community besides,its a productive way tospend time with friendsinstead of just hanging out atthe mall, the mechanicalengineering student said.

    It was also the first timethat Liew had tried hishands at building a house.While not as complicated ashe feared, it did turn out tobe quite tiring.

    He confessed he and hisuniversity mates had beenarriving for work later andlater with each passing

    week.However, he wont mind

    signing up again if hispersonal schedulespermitted.

    Its good exercise and thetime you spend with friendsis priceless.

    Liew said Bambang tookpains to look after thevolunteers ... by readyingsnacks and cold drinks at anearby hut.

    To people still looking fora good reason to getinvolved, this universitystudent offers a simpleadvice: You guys are

    missing out. Do somethingfor the community.

    Most Habitat forHumanity volunteers agreethere is a certain satisfactionto seeing their hard workpay off before their eyes.

    This was how TessaHenderson, 22, ended upworking with localuniversity students onBambangs house.

    My boyfriend and I aretravelling through Asia andwe want to do somevoluntary work along theway. We found out aboutHabitats work in Kuchingthrough the website, got intouch and here we are.

    It was their first trip tothis part of the world, soworking on a local voluntaryproject was a great way totake in the local colours andmeet Malaysians.

    The experience has beenfantastic. You can see resultsimmediately, Hendersonsaid.

    Building is the mostproductive way to help out.If you teach English for aweek, youre not going tosee results within that week.But you only need basicskills to help with Habitatand its really rewarding,she added.

    Habitat for Humanity is aChristian organisation butthey make no distinctionbetween race, religion andthings people like to judgeother people on.

    Home partners are chosenon their level of need, andtheir willingness to bepartners in the programme.They are also required torepay HfH an interest-freeloan for the house but the

    were the second group towork on a project atKampung Sandong.

    Jin Thai, 20, is a civilengineering student with aninterest in humanitarianwork. A week of house-building with HfH was rightup his alley and a great wayto spend part of his schoolholidays.

    Its related to my field,he said.

    Jin signed up when HfHwent to the university togive a talk. And for him, theexperience of building ahouse proved meaningful.

    monthly installment will bewithin their means.

    When I filled in theapplication form, I had toput down how much Ithough I could repay themevery month, Bambangsaid.

    When my applicationwas approved, two Habitatmembers came to interviewme. They ended uplowering the amount Ioffered to repay.

    A qualified home partneris also required to put in 400hours of sweat equity meaning he must work withHfHs constructionsupervisor Eric Yap and ateam of volunteers to put uphis new house.

    Bambang was so thrilled

    about his new house projectthat he took two weeks offwork in order to get startedimmediately.

    It was his house andresponsibility, and to him,there was something reallyspecial about putting a new

    home together with his ownhands.

    Having helped in aprevious HfH effort,Bambang said he would lenda hand to a future projectwhen time permitted.

    With his own house takingshape, he knows the value ofHabitat volunteerism whenhelpful hands pick up abuilding tool ... experienceoptional.

    You know youre doing

    We get to contributeto the community besides, its aproductive way tospend time withfriends instead of justhanging out at themall. Wilson Liew, a mechanicalengineering student

    Building is the most productive way to helpout. If you teach English for a week, yourenot going to see results within that week. Butyou only need basic skills to help with Habitatand its really rewarding. Tessa Henderson

    something valuable forsomeone, he noted.

    Volunteers come from allwalks of life students onholidays, professionals on ateam-building effortweekend, their colleagues,backpackers who want to dosomething more than visit aparticular country, and anassorted group of friends

    looking for a new way tobond.

    Perhaps, you can only givea day or a weekend.Perhaps, you think yourtime wont be worth muchbecause the hardest workyour hands ever do istyping on a keyboard. Butyou should neverunderestimate how muchthis will mean to someonewho needs a hand up inlife.

    DOWN AND OUT: Liew flat on his back after an exhausting

    days work.

    LENDIND A HAND: Henderson wants to do something

    useful while visiting Kuching.

    BREAK TIME: The team members take a break under a shelter with refreshments provided

    by house partner Bambang.

    ALMOST READY: Progress on Bambangs house

    was obvious at the end of the week.

    CAMARADERIE: Jin Thai (left) and Liew agree this is a

    great way to spend the holidays and bond with friends.

    SHAPING UP: The house frame taking shape. Photos by Wilson Liew

    For more information onhow you and your group ofbuddies can get involvedwith Habitat for Humanity,contact the Kuching affiliate(082-242700). You can alsovisit the HfH blog at http://habitatkuching.wordpress.comor the online community athttp://www.ammado.com/Nonprofit/HfH+Kuching.

    August 10, 2008 thesundaypostfeatures


    By Georgette [email protected]

    Students display spirit of altruismStudents display spirit of altruism


    Jin Thai hammers

    a section of the

    wall into place.


    Jin Thai hammers

    a section of the

    wall into place.