To celebrate its 10 years and 17 million supporters, Habitat for Humanity Young Leaders Build gathered over a hundred youth from the Asia-Pacific region for its “Youth from Home for Homes” virtual conference held yesterday, April 24.
United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, delivered the opening remarks.
“Young people are the backbone of society, and our only hope in creating a better world and a better future for all. But youth cannot do it alone. It is pivotal that young people be included as full-fledged partners in all decision and policy-making that affects their lives and futures, including SDG 11, target 1 on access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services,” Wickramanayake said.
Joining the UN youth envoy were young leaders who presented highlights from their community-based projects supporting Habitat’s work during the pandemic. These include raising funds to build core houses in Sri Lanka and advocating for affordable housing among local government officials in the Philippines.
“The main hurdle we had to overcome is how we can ‘build’ from home. It is important to view challenges as opportunities for growth and motivation to create, innovate, and disrupt. Going beyond building a house, we sought to build the foundations of our partner community by focusing on addressing the key issues they face,” said Megan Liu, a Filipino volunteer and president of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Green Chapter at the De La Salle University-Manila.
Liu and her fellow Campus Chapter youth leaders actively implement community development projects to support their partner communities during the pandemic. Their notable projects include organizing a successful webinar on housing and mobilizing a fundraising campaign to provide less privileged students with learning supply kits and help them cope with distance learning challenges.
Supporting Habitat Philippines’ COVID-19 response, they are also organizing projects focused on environmental sustainability, food security, livelihood and education, and advocacy building.
Almost 70 volunteers from 10 countries have started to implement multi-month projects under the Young Leaders Build campaign. The volunteers comprise of university students, young professionals, and youth with vocations.
“We see young people negatively impacted by COVID-19 especially in the areas of education, opportunities and social contacts. In these unprecedented times of economic and social distress, I am inspired by the resilience of these 70 young leaders who have responded to the challenge to support Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” said Luis Noda, VP for Asia-Pacific, Habitat for Humanity International.
Other volunteer-led projects include providing cash and in-kind assistance for families in need to repair or build safe, healthy homes and the construction of community facilities such as handwash stations, solar lighting and urban gardens. Volunteers also plan to train other youth and their families on ways to protect their household from the coronavirus, promote mental health, and facilitate learning from home.
Since 2012, more than 17 million Habitat Young Leaders Build supporters have raised almost $9 million to help more than 33,000 families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. While the 2021 campaign peaks in April, the momentum will continue as youth groups and volunteers will continue their projects until 2022.
Banner photo from www.habitat.org