In September 2019, a Global Village team traveled to Fiji to build a strong and stable home for a family living in substandard conditions, in a flood prone village during cyclone season. The team was made up of employees from our partner Home NZ, and Wright Wire Electrical, led by Habitat’s Benjamin Ross. Together, a new home was built in just one week and the lives of the family have now been transformed with safe, reliable and resilient shelter. One of the biggest challenges to housing in the Pacific is the constant threat of extreme weather. A decent place to live means a home prepared to withstand a tropical cyclone. Jessica Cooper, Co-Owner of Home NZ shared her experience of the trip: “The first week of September 2019 a group of eager, big hearted people embarked on a life-changing adventure to the beautiful Island of Fiji to be a part of a Habitat for Humanity build mission. Before the building began we met the Dratabu Village Chief and received the blessing to break usual village protocols to allow construction on the land. We presented some kava root as a gift to the chief. This would be prepared for the celebration on the final build day when the house was officially presented to the family. At the build site where we got stuck into induction, hard hats and gloves and then onto digging. Lots of digging! We met the family we were building for and we learned of their story and experienced their warmth, positivity and gratitude, which was humbling to say the least. By the end of the day two we had a floor and four frames up. A satisfying achievement given the usual construction time frames we experience in NZ! After four massive days of construction, we finished up at 6.30pm exhausted, emotional, covered in paint and dust but running on hyperactive excited energy and laughter! We took every posed photo possible with the family in front of their now completed physical expression of our service and love, which we lovingly named ‘Vuvale’ – Fijian for Home. Day five was dedication and celebration day. We arrived on site in mid morning and met with the family, the Habitat team and the local minister to bless and dedicate the home. It was then presented to the family, who cut the ceremonial ribbon on the door and celebrated the ownership of their first home. I left Fiji feeling extremely full of love and gratitude, for the experiences I had had and for the beautiful people i had met. I am so grateful for the experience of which I will never be able to forget, and never want to again take for granted the simple luxuries I live with every day. I’m not sure who was richer for the experience – the family who received the home, or me.” Our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live doesn’t end with building houses. It’s about fostering resilience and self reliance, so communities are empowered and prepared in the face of future disasters. Builds like this show us the impact that safe and reliable shelter has on a family’s well-being, strength, and resilience.
Sign up to news and updates on our work