In promoting the mandate of Habitat for Humanity to ensure that persons are accommodated in a respectable and reasonably safe environment, a team of youths took the initiative to lend a helping hand.
It was last week Sunday that Michael Xavier and his friends descended on the community of Triumph, East Coast Demerara, volunteering their time and efforts to help improve the life of a Habitat for Humanity Home partner.
Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with God and people everywhere from all walks of life to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so as to help them live in decent homes and by extension, decent communities.
“This move is in order for every person to experience God’s love and be able to live and grow into all that God intends,” according to Habitat for Humanity Administrative Assistant, Clifton Ridley.
Persons who are desirous of volunteering their service to the humanitarian entity can do so by calling 225-2676 or 231-7664.
Habitat for Humanity Guyana is organised as a nonprofit organisation under the laws of Guyana and received its official affiliation with Habitat for Humanity International in 1995. In 2003, it celebrated the completion of its 200th house and received Habitat for Humanity International’s regional award for achievement in advocacy.
The vision of Habitat Guyana is a Guyana without substandard housing. Habitat Guyana recognises that it cannot achieve this alone and believes that it must maintain a sustainable organisational structure and develop a broad base of support, while developing strategic alliances with other like-minded groups that share a common vision.
Habitat homes in Guyana are an average of 500 square feet with two bedrooms and plumbing, but no electricity. They are built of reinforced concrete. Guyana is blessed with being located in a hurricane-free zone, but it is subject to flooding in some areas. Habitat for Humanity Guyana recognises the need for rapid acceleration of the building process in order to truly make a dent in the housing needs of the country.
Its emphasis on innovative and experimental models over the past fiscal year has resulted in a house design that is cheaper than the previous traditional one. Research is, however, continuing through the affiliate’s partners at the University of Guyana.
Housing need in Guyana
According to Government, some 5,200 homes must be built each year for 10 years to meet the national housing need, while some 20 percent of Guyanese are illegally squatting. The government stated in its 2001 “Guyana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper” that poor housing infrastructure and high land costs were major issues contributing to the country’s severe poverty crisis.
Some 35 percent live below the poverty line, with 19 percent living under conditions of extreme poverty. The poor lack equal access to land and housing opportunities.
In many areas, families endure leaking roofs and woefully inadequate space, with lack of privacy and sanitary facilities such as toilets or running water only the beginning of their challenges.
They live in weak structures, many on the verge of collapse, with rotten walls, rusty and curled roof sheets or parts of the roof missing, and holes in the floor covered with cardboard. If windows exist, they are often covered with cardboard, zinc or wood.
Families with four to 10 members frequently live in single-room houses, with either no toilet, or with toilet and kitchen outdoors.
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