Partner Microsite: Habitat for Humanity
The Asia-Pacific region is home to 4.3 billion people, where an estimated 18.3 percent still live below the international poverty line. Habitat for Humanity works both directly with families to improve houses and in partnership with others to tackle the huge problem of substandard housing in the region.
Habitat for Humanity works with a wide variety of partners – some support with funds or gifts in kind, others by volunteering or providing pro bono services. Habitat also works with like-minded partner organizations to implement initiatives locally, nationally, regionally and globally. Partners are often corporations, non-profit organizations and government departments.
Studies have shown the positive impact that decent housing has on an individual. Lighting, safe drinking water and sanitation, a quiet place to work, and stable occupancy mean better performance at school and improved income prospects. Citizens living in adequate homes are more productive, creating thriving communities and generating stronger economies. A decent home provides a way out of poverty.
Habitat for Humanity seeks partnerships to support construction, water and sanitation, housing finance, market development, secure land tenure, disaster mitigation and disaster response programs.
Habitat for Humanity is active in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
What we do: Case Study – Opelia Marcullo
Opelia Marcullo’s house was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Visayas area of the Philippines on 8 November 2013. Opelia received a shelter repair kit from Habitat for Humanity Philippines on 23 November 2013, with funding support from Lutheran World Relief. She was interviewed in her repaired home in Maya, Daanbantayan, on 23 April 2014.
Thirteen people live in Opelia Marcullo, 59, and 50-year-old husband Mario’s home – the two of them, plus five children and six grandchildren. When the rain and wind from Typhoon Haiyan started, the entire family were in their own house. As things quickly got worse and their house started collapsing, they climbed over the wall and into their neighbor’s house.
All thirteen people huddled together in their neighbor’s toilet room – chosen as it didn’t have a ceiling – and the water rose to waist height. “We spent our time praying that we would not all die, praying to God that we would all be safe,” said Opelia.
Large parts of their hollow block house were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. Opelia and her family spent the next four days living in a neighbor’s garage. All their clothes were wet and possessions lost.
“We didn’t know what to do, we didn’t have any money; we had to find ways to survive.”
“All our neighbors were in the same situation. Rich or poor, both were affected.”
“The first people to visit us and find out about our situation were from a local church group. They told us about Habitat for Humanity and the distribution of shelter materials and tools.”
On 23 November 2013, Opelia and Mario went to collect the contents of a Habitat for Humanity Philippines shelter repair kit – plywood, lumber, galvanized iron sheeting, hammer, handsaw and nails. Whenever they managed to save enough money, they paid carpenters to build their walls and roof, and by February 2014 their house was completely repaired.
Christmas was spent without electricity or water. All local schools were destroyed, and Opelia’s grandchildren are endeavoring to continue their studies in temporary classrooms.
“I moved into this house in 1976 when I got married. Mario and I took out a 50,000 Philippine peso [approx. US$1,120] loan to build it. We still had 40,000 pesos to pay back when the typhoon struck.”
Mario earns an income as a fisherman – fishing at nighttime with a heard torch. He gets paid per kilo of fish he catches.
“I used to catch around 30 kilos of fish. Since the typhoon I collect perhaps two kilos or zero,” said Mario. “I think it will take more than five years before the fish return. It’s the only job that I know so I will continue doing it. I wouldn’t recommend my children become fisherman. There is no future in it.”
Mario is now also working as a laborer in order to earn some additional money. Opelia has started doing other people’s laundry and selling fish on the street to generate more income.
“We knew that there was a typhoon coming – we had two days warning. We have experienced typhoons before, but we weren’t expecting it to be that strong,” said Opelia. “We have no choice; we have to accept our situation. Thank God that our whole family is safe.”