According to the UNFPA’s state of world population report 2018, the young population across the globe has reached an astonishing figure of 1.8 billion out of 7.6 billion, and most of them live in developing countries like Bangladesh. This remarkable magnitude of young population surely can play a significant role in ensuring sustainable development of their communities and countries, consequently can bring sustainability and contentment in the Asia Pacific region. Thus to empower young people with the right mindset and effective leadership skills, global housing non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity undertakes a righteous youth leadership initiative called Habitat Young Leaders Build.
Habitat Young Leaders Build (HabitatYLB) is a multi-month campaign conducted every year that engages young people to volunteer, fundraise and raise awareness and their voices in favor of a decent and affordable home for everyone. The movement encourages youth to take the lead and motivate their peers to build homes and communities, on a Habitat build site and advocate through their social networks.
Now on its eighth year, the 2019 Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign began on 5 December 2018, on World Volunteer Day and continued until culmination on 13 April 2019. In the first phase, the awareness-raising campaign focused on sharing about Habitat’s work and the need for young people to get involved in the vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Since 2016 Habitat for Humanity International provides Advocacy Grants to youth to motivate them to participate in advocating for housing during the HabitatYLB season, where applicants are encouraged to submit projects focused on decent housing, slum upgrading, gender and property rights, disaster resilience or security of tenure. This year there were three winners from Bangladesh who received USD 1000 each as grants for funding their proposed housing advocacy projects. The winners are, Badabon Sangho, CAMET Park, and Swapner Alo Kishori Club.
During this HYLB season, Habitat Bangladesh hosted 11 build events at Berua, Tumulia, and Uttar Rajnagar village of Kaliganj Upazila under Gazipur district on different days over the weeks starting from 01 March to 05 April 2019. A Total of 240 people have volunteered with us to construct six new houses funded by the MetLife Foundation and Heidelberg Cement Bangladesh. These wonderful groups of Volunteers were from Australian International School Dhaka, Playpen School Dhaka, American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB), University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), MetLife Foundation, Heidelberg Cement Bangladesh, the US Embassy Dhaka, Human Aid and Individuals from Dhaka. The experience of volunteering with Habitat Bangladesh has been one of kind for many of the volunteers.
“Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for a number of times has been a wonderful experience to cherish. It is really great to come closer to the community in need and contribute to their betterment. I encourage every youth to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and feel the happiness of doing community service” said Faria Mahbub, a staff member from MetLife Foundation.
As a part of the regional campaign, Habitat Bangladesh also organized a special build #Women Build celebrating the International Women's Day on March 8, 2019, which has been a great success. Around 60 volunteers from the US Embassy Dhaka, MetLife Foundation, Human Aid, Local Community Based Organizations and other individual volunteers made this event meaningful by participating in the build activities of 3 women headed houses followed by a discussion on empowerment and health issues of women at Berua village, Kaliganj, Gazipur. Habitat for Humanity works through a positive bias and prioritizes women in the work they do as they are the most often among the most marginalized of the population.
We built a house for Mrs. Firoza, who lived in a poorly constructed house with her 17-year-old son. Daylight never entered into their house, the darkness symbolized the difficulties and insecurity they faced every day. She is the only earning member of her family working as a helping hand (maidservant) in the neighborhood. Her earning is never enough for two people. She was in a very unstable situation of her life before Habitat could reach out and provide her with a newly constructed house that gave her the strength, stability, and Independence. “I never could dare to dream that someday I will live in an entirely new house. The home has brought happiness and security to our family. I feel blessed and forever grateful to Habitat for their support” Said Firoza.
The HYLB campaign allows volunteers to join in with countless others in the region in building, campaigning, and advocating for decent households and living conditions for the poor. Throughout the campaign, volunteers from various countries in the Asia Pacific gets to participate in builds, campaigns, various volunteer activities relating to housing and hygiene, advocacy grant competitions, etc. This is a unique opportunity for youth around the world to engage in empowering the communities through shelter.