Vietnam Big Build 2016 Final Report

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Vietnam Big Build 2016 Final Report

Opening ceremony traditional dance

King Hung Temple, Phu Tho province

Group photo final day

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.@Metlife over 5 days w/ @Habitat_org Vietnam built homes & sanitation facilities w/ 20 low-income families
Monday, November 14, 2016 - 8:25am

CAMPAIGN: Corporate Responsibility


Over five days, Oct. 3 to 7, 2016, Habitat for Humanity Vietnam and its local partners built decent homes and sanitation facilities with 20 low-income families in Phu Tho province with the help of 194 international volunteers and 10 local volunteers. Phu Tho province in northern Vietnam is prone to disasters such as flooding and storm. Many families are living from hand to mouth and hardly have any savings. Despite the damage from annual flooding, not many families can afford to repair their houses that are made of non-durable materials such as straw, untreated wood and tarpaulin and come with a thatched or fibrocement roof. Without proper sanitation facilities, the families live with an increased risk of water borne-illnesses and diseases. The Vietnam Big Build aimed to support the province improve decent housing in their community. The Vietnam Big Build is held three years after a successful Mekong Big Builds hosted in Tien Giang province in 2013.

The event kicked off with a welcome dinner at the glorious King Hung’s Temple on 2th October attended by about 250 people including local government partners, Habitat For Humanity(HFH) staff and 208 volunteers who flew to Vietnam from New Zealand, Australia, the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. The volunteers were welcomed on stage by Kelly Koch, HFH Vietnam’s country director; Tran Phu Tieu, Member of Party Bureau of Phu Tho province; Do Ngoc Dung, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Department of Phu Tho province; Susan Sutton, Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy in Vietnam; Gaurav Sharma, CEO of BIDV MetLife Life Insurance representing MetLife Foundation and Rick Hathaway, Vice President, Habitat for Humanity Asia-Pacific. The honorable guests ceremoniously opened the event with speeches and greetings amid traditional dance performances on behalf of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Phu Tho province.

The first day of the build, October 3rd, fell on World Habitat Day. Habitat for Humanity Vietnam and all the VBB participants stood alongside Habitat for Humanity International and the rest of the world to raise awareness of the human right to decent housing. The day was commemorated at the VBB through the sweat and hard work of the volunteers and home partners. 

During the build week, the volunteers worked alongside 20 families to build new homes made of concrete, brick and corrugated iron sheets in Huong Nha and Xuan Quang communes, Tam Nong district. Sanitation facilities were also built outside each of the 20 houses. The international volunteer teams for the HFH Vietnam Big Build 2016 came from all walks of life and corners of the world, consisting of grandmothers, students, professionals, retirees, war veterans, a honey moon couple and life-long volunteers. They worked relentlessly alongside the future homeowners to help HFH Vietnam reach its goal of building 20 houses in less than a week!

Build activities came to a close on Friday, October 7thafter an emotional and intimate house dedication ceremony held by the individual teams at their respective homes and a closing ceremony at the Huong Nha commune base site. Among the event highlights were the rejoicing congratulations of Haike Manning, the New Zealand Ambassador in Vietnam, speeches by government partners and a spirited song by a US volunteer team.

“I have so enjoyed visiting all of the houses, meeting the families & volunteers and seeing lives changing as each day goes by.  Seeing the interactions, patient teaching, enthusiastic learning, breaking of language barriers, kids warming to strange people, joyous faces and warm embraces…and all the while, houses being built.  This is what Habitat is about and what a privilege it has been to be part of this,” said Kelly Koch.

Luong Van Chung, now a proud homeowner, took the stage to deliver a heartfelt and moving speech. He once again thanked the volunteers, HFH Vietnam and local authorities. He promised to reciprocate the kindness shown to him and his family by providing a loving and nurturing environment to his children and by making sure they take full advantage of the opportunity received.

The Vietnam Big Build 2016 was carried out in partnership with the People’s Committee of Phu Tho province, Tam Nong district and Xuan Quang and Huong Nha communes and thanks to the generous sponsorship of Thrivent Builds Worldwide, Metlife Foundation and the greater Habitat for Humanity family.