ROYAL VISIT TO HABITAT BANGLADESH BUILD IN SAVAR – 9 May 2008
On Friday, May 9th, Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh welcomed his Royal Highness, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to a building site in Savar. Accompanied by His Excellency Mr. Anwar Choudhury, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, as well as Mr. Chris Austin, the Country Director of British aid agency DFID, His Royal Highness was given a practical tour of the “Save and Build” program, the cornerstone of Habitat’s work in Bangladesh.
His Royal Highness, His Excellency and accompanying dignitaries were shown the ongoing construction of a home by volunteers, Habitat staff and homeowners, allowing the assembled party to personally experience the value of community involvement Habitat places upon its projects. Speaking to Habitat Bangladesh Volunteers Program Manager Sanjay Saha, His Royal Highness discussed the inroads Habitat has made in attracting and hosting both national and international volunteers, an essential part of the Habitat building process. The assembled group expressed admiration at Habitat Bangladesh’s success in consistently recruiting local volunteers for its projects, allowing the organization some measure of sustainability, and encouraging the local community to be active participants in the welfare of those less fortunate.
A brief program followed the site visited, with Habitat Bangladesh CEO Roger Bodary thanking the Duke and assembled guests for their visit and kind patronage, as well as imparting some of the founding principles for Habitat’s work in Bangladesh. “When we help a community, a family build, we’re not just building a house, we’re building a home, we’re building up dignity”, said Mr. Bodary. “We have a saying at Habitat Bangladesh, when you give the gift of a home, you’re giving a gift for life.”
His Royal Highness in turn thanked Mr. Bodary, and reflected upon the value of Habitat’s work in Bangladesh: “I’m very please with the way momentum has built up.” Praising Habitat Bangladesh’s increasing capacity in the country, Prince Richard then offered his congratulations to Habitat staff for their work and dedication.
His Excellency Mr. Choudhury echoed His Royal Highness’ thanks, and in turn expressed his positive impression of both the organization and the programs it undertakes in Bangladesh. “To be able to provide a home at no interest, that is a marvelous thing, more people should know about it, and I will do what I can to tell them about it”, said Mr. Choudhury.
Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh’s “Save and Build” program works with communities to develop financially viable saving habits, encourages the value of community support and allows families to build homes through a no-interest loan. Families are then supported through every stage of the building process, from purchasing materials to the final stages of construction. By working with volunteers, both local and international, as well as partner home-owners, Habitat is making decent, affordable housing a matter of conscience, building durable, sustainable homes throughout Bangladesh.
For more information on Habitat Bangladesh, as well as details on how to volunteer or donate, please visit our website at www.habitatbangladesh.org.
Story and pictures – Pierre Johannessen.