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Japan Hope Builders 2011: Building with a Thai Family (1)
On August 29, Team 1 (of 2 teams) of the Japan Hope Builders finished their first project of the summer in the suburbs of Bangkok (*1). The team, a collaborative effort between Habitat and "Chikyu-no-Arukikata" and the first of the summer, is always accepting new members, no special construction experience necessary.
The team counted 12 people among its ranks, including 10 college students, 1 high school student, and 1 member of the working world. The team was in Thailand during the rainy season, which this year caused severe flooding in the region the team was visiting. There were times when they had to work during inclement weather, but they managed to finish the project successfully, building a house with the help of the homeowners, carpenters, and a few Habitat staff members.
The Sompich, the homeowners, have a 15 year-old-son, and the three of the them will live there together. She is a caddy at a local golf course, and continued to work even as he was helping with the construction. The Sompich's monthly income is about 13,000 baht (approx 30,000 yen). After paying their food, housing, and utility expenses, they are able to save about 2,000 baht per month (5,000 yen). The house they had been living in was not in a safe location, and it was not an environment where their son could focus on his studies. They have been saving money for years, and this year, three years after she applied to Habitat for help build a house, they were finally able to buy the land to build their own house on.
Ms. Sompich was there every day helping the Habitat team to build the house in the 35 degree heat, not even taking breaks with the team and showing a remarkable work ethic. The team was short a few members for building a house of this size, but the team was inspired by her strength of will and displayed some amazing teamwork. Everyone worked together and encouraged each other, and on the final day, her spirit and the team's hard work took physical form as one family's future was finally built. Celebrating completion of the work with a party, Ms. Sompich shared his sentiments with the team: "Thank you very much. This house belongs to all of you, please come and visit any time."
Message from Volunteers
Tori Kobayashi (11th grade)
With the help of the entire team and some locals, we were able to build a house. When we were almost finished with the project, our fatigue started turning into a feeling of accomplishment. The house I helped to build was not my house, but I felt how important it is to have a house of your own, and I hope the owner will be able to live there for their entire life. I'm still in high school, but the rest of the team are all in college. At first I felt kind of like I was on unfamiliar turf and didn't really talk, but after working together for a day I blended right in. So don't feel like you can't volunteer because you're only in high school! I met some great people here, and I learned so much English from communicating with the local staff. I really like Thailand, and I hope that I come to Thailand again and also visit other countries with Habitat.
Taichi Kondo (College Junior)
Having our own house seems like nothing to us, we don't even think about it. However there are places in the world where that is not so, and when I thought of how the owner of this house waited three years for us to come build it, I put all my feelings into the work and was drenched in sweat every day. I just got so absorbed in the project, and I found out how good it feels to bring joy to people. There is something that I myself can do to help people, and I am proud to say that I helped to realized the hopes and dreams of the homeowner in building this house, and that it is something they will have for the rest of the their lives. This was just one experience, but the feeling and what I gained from this project will stay with me for my entire life.
(*1) The first Japan Hope Builders team was sponsored by the Oakwood Tokyo, and became a reality with the Japan Project, which sent a Japanese team aborad to build a house. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to everyone at Oakwood Tokyo.