A team of 12 pupils and four staff from Friends’ School, Lisburn recently embarked on a Habitat for Humanity global village trip, following a year of fundraising, planning and preparation.
Founded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has since provided affordable homes for some 6.8m people.
The Friends’ team flew to Romania, to stay in Ploiesti, a city of around a quarter of a million people, where they first experienced Romanian culture, sampling local delicacies and visiting centuries-old castles, before geting down to work as volunteers.
They heard that five million Romanians live in poor housing conditions, with 35% cent of homes in urgent need of repair and 41% of the population with no access to running water.
“Like many across Romania, low income families in Ploiesti cannot afford a mortgage to buy their own home,” said one of the team. “There are only 310 social housing units in Ploiesti, all of which are occupied.
“As a result, many live with extended family in overcrowded conditions, meaning that children have no space to play or study and the parents have no privacy. The houses we worked on were part of the ‘Eight New Homes’ project. This provides eight families with social problems and low income with a new home . . . nearly 300 international volunteers and several Romanian companies have worked hard to improve the housing conditions.
“The houses weworked on were started last spring and are due to be finished next spring. We cannot wait to return to see the finished homes.”
Day one saw the team work on insulating rooms before later splitting into smaller teams to place dry wall. After a midweek visit to a completed Habitat project they turned their hands to plastering.
The trip ended with a celebratory barbecue.
“While the trip was short, what we achieved is permanent,” said a team spokesperson. “. . . We would like to extend our thanks to last year’s home team for their fantastic fundraising efforts through Colour Me FSL. The funds raised went towards the charitable donation required for the trip. We would like to particularly thank Mr Moore, Mr Chestnutt and all of the Habitat NI Team who worked together to give us this amazing experience.”