“The roof leaked. The paint on the walls was coming away. The house was extremely cold. The bathroom was covered in mould and the floor was beginning to rot. And we had rats.
I was upset for myself. I was upset for my children. I was also quite despairing about the fact that there was nothing I could do about it.
I got very good at strategically putting furniture in places so you couldn’t see the damage, but it wasn’t enough. I was inviting people over less and less, to the point where I stopped all together. I’m a sociable person so that was very isolating.
To bring myself to say, ‘I need some help, can you help me?’ was the hardest thing to do. I’d never shown anybody the extent of the conditions I was living in.
When Bridget from Habitat visited and asked ‘What do you need?’ I almost didn’t know where to begin. I expected to be rebuffed, but everything I showed her she said, ‘I can see that’. She filled me with hope, and she didn’t for one second make me feel like it was my fault. It was a relief to know that someone was on my side.
When the work started, initially I felt displaced. It was like having a swarm of bees all around my home. Seeing all these people I didn’t know pull my house apart made me feel like I was being deconstructed. It’s like losing a part of yourself; even though you know it wasn’t good, it’s still you.
But there was trust. Habitat and Buildtech gave me such support and were so caring that I felt safe in their hands.
The funny thing is that once I opened up about the help I needed, others began to offer support too. Some people didn’t even know me, but they swarmed my house because they were part of the bigger picture. You call it ‘A Brush with Kindness’ and that really is what it is. The overwhelming feeling is kindness. That was the beauty of it all.
I love my house now. It’s so beautiful. I love having friends and family over. I feel like a burden has been lifted. I feel a lot freer to be myself and I have so much more energy – I want to make it even more beautiful. I also want to pass on the generosity to help others in any way I can. I feel so very grateful to Habitat and Buildtech and everyone else who gave me this incredible gift.
I think people should never feel they are undeserving. Everybody needs a helping hand some time or another. People shouldn’t be afraid to voice what they need. Don’t hide it. Don’t stay where you are. When you are brave enough to admit you need help, you’ll be amazed at the kindness that follows.”
Yvonne’s house from the outside before the work began.
Yvonne’s house after the work had finished.
We’re so grateful to Yvonne for sharing her story. Unfortunately, there are many more families in Christchurch whose houses are in a very poor condition, putting the health and security of the parents and children at risk.
If you’re in a position to help, please donate today.