Monday, December 22, 2008

Designated overseas contributions

Habitat Bangladesh wishes to express a special thank-you and gratitude to all our Tithe partners and global donors. From FY 2005 - FY 2008, Habitat Bangladesh received US$191,500 as Designated Tithe Donations from different US Habitat affiliates. As Tithe contributions we received US$69,723 in FY 2007/2008 alone.

Habitat Bangladesh received another US$6,185 in donations globally from individual donors and companies from December 2007 to June 2008.

Designated donations and individual contributions have exponentially increased during FY 2008. While Macomb County, Orange County and Gwinnett County remain HFHI-Bangladesh’s largest donors, HFH Victoria made a significant effort to encourage the students of Trinity school, aged from 3 - 14 years, to raise funds for HFHI Bangladesh. Though the contributions were small, the efforts were huge and we were certainly inspired seeing the compassion of these young children.

Sincere thanks to our Tithe partners for their sustained support of Habitat Bangladesh:

Camden HFH, Metropolitan, NJ

Danville, IL
Greater Cleveland HFH OH
Gwinnett County HFH, GA
Jackson County Area HFH, WI
Kent County, MI
Macomb County HFH, MI
Monadnock HFH, NH
Orange County Inc, HFH, CA
Portage County, OH
Rochester Area HFH, MN
University of Wisconsin Whitewater HFH CC, WI
Victoria HFH, TX
Warren County HFH, VA

In country fundraising

Habitat Bangladesh also wishes to acknowledge all our local donors, Global Village and local volunteers for their tireless effort in supporting Habitat's house building activities for low income people.

From July-September 2008, the local fundraising stands at US$11,900. Congratulations to all our volunteers for Building Homes and Changing Lives through Habitat Bangladesh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scholastica School Careers Day

The Scholastica School in Dhaka invited personnel from Habitat Bangladesh to speak to their senior students at a Careers Day on 8 November 2008. Sanjay Saha, Marketing and Volunteer Programs Manager and Monica Gray, Resource Development Associate attended the day. A number of students and teachers expressed their interest in Habitat Bangladesh’s meaningful work in the community. The teachers are planning to extended opportunities for the students to complete their community service requirements through Habitat Bangladesh.

Volunteer Fair at the US Embassy Dhaka

The US Embassy arranged a Volunteer Fair on 4th November at the Embassy. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) invited different NGOs to come and share their activities with the Embassy staff. It was a wonderful opportunity for different national and international NGOs to come and showcase their programs. About six to seven NGOs put up their stalls and displayed their information materials. The main objective of the fair was to inform and educate US embassy staff on the different volunteer activities available in and around Dhaka for community engagement.

Aside from the regular USAID funds, the employees, their spouses and children felt an inner call to involve themselves in different outreach programs and support the community. The Volunteer Fair provided them with a convenient platform to learn about the activities and programs of different organizations and the opportunities where their voluntary services could add value.

Over the last two years, US Embassy staff and the CLO has been instrumental in bringing volunteers and raising funds for Habitat Bangladesh. In FY 2008 the US embassy staff have taken part in 3 builds and through their initiation more than US$6,000 has been raised for Habitat Bangladesh.

Annual Fair of PTA at the International School Dhaka (ISD)

Habitat for Humanity International – Bangladesh has been busy with local advocacy in Dhaka, spreading the good news of Habitat’s work.

On Friday 21 November, staff from the PR/RD department spent the day talking about Habitat and selling merchandise at the annual fair of the International School Dhaka (ISD).

ISD has long been a supporter of Habitat and have provided many volunteer teams to build at Habitat’s sites around the country.

Despite being a long, hot day, the Habitat staff were more than happy to talk about the successes and growth of the organization. As Habitat move towards increased reliance on local fundraising and volunteers, local advocacy is an important avenue to encourage growth in programs in Bangladesh.

Global Village Team from the US visits Durgapur Satellite

US open team visited Durgapur, Bangladesh from 18 - 27 November 2008 helping Md. Khurshed and Md. Enamul Haque in building their dream homes. The team of 6 women showed great enthusiasm in helping the homeowners, learning about the local culture and mingling with the community. On 23 November, the team went to see the harvesting festival of the Garo tribe, had lunch with the community and enjoyed a tribal cultural show. The volunteers enjoyed traveling to the tribal village by crossing the river by boat and taking a rickshaw ride.

The homeowners appreciated the volunteers immensely. Homeowner, Md Enamul said, “The volunteers did a great job. It surprised me when I found out the volunteers took up the construction of my house wholeheartedly and tried their best to finish as much they could before they left”.

The volunteers spoke of Bangladesh being a beautiful country. They commented that the people of the community were very warm and hospitable. Team members were also impressed with the colorful culture and traditions of Bangladesh. Some of the comments the volunteers said “Brick by brick we built, we’ve helped you and you’ve helped us, you have changed our lives”; “Crossing the river, cold wet sand between my toes welcomed by new friends.”

International Volunteers Day – 5 December 2008

On International Volunteers Day, Habitat for Humanity International – Bangladesh held volunteer builds for Community Youth Groups (CYGs) at three satellites across the country – Mymensingh, Jessore and Satkhira.

The Habitat Bangladesh volunteers from Mymensingh satellite lend their hands to build the home of Mohammed Abul Kalam at Kaltapara, Khamar Shingjani, Dhohakhala, Gouripur, Mymensingh on International Volunteers Day on 5 December. Nine volunteers provided unskilled labor for the homeowner.

Abul Kalam is married and lives with his parents and his son in his house. He came to know about Habitat Bangladesh from other homeowner in the same area. He was very happy that volunteers were willing to help him to build his house. Both his family and neighbors were encouraged to assist in the house construction when they came to know that the young volunteers had come on their own will. The volunteers enjoyed the work very much, and had fun despite the manual labor being a little hard in the beginning. The staff at Mymensingh gave t-shirts to the volunteers as a sign of appreciation for their time and effort.

Jessore satellite celebrated International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December 2008. 7 Community Youth Group (CYG) members, social workers and the entire satellite staff participated in a build. The program started with prayer at 9 am. Jessore Satellite Coordinator, Mr. Gobinda Das spoke about the significance of International Volunteer Day (IVD). Many people live in substandard houses around the world. Habitat for Humanity International is working to eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth. Every person has the right to live in a decent and adequate house. However, it is a big challenge for the poorest of the poor to build a house. So, Habitat for Humanity International helps to minimize the cost of the house for the owner, by hosting volunteers who provide manual labor. Mr. Das saluted the volunteers for their selfless support towards meaningful development in the community.

As a part of the manual labor provided for the homeowner, volunteers moved around 2,000 bricks for the house, mixed cement and brick chips, and excavated the house foundations. Homeowner Swapna Mondol and her neighbors were very pleased with the volunteers, as they had never expected to receive such support from Habitat Bangladesh and its volunteers.

Through the activities of IVD, the community came to know about the sacrifice and dedication of the volunteers of Habitat Bangladesh. This event promoted HFH and volunteers as change making and advocacy tools for the community.


One year on from the devastation of Cyclone Sidr, Habitat Bangladesh has announced that the construction of 480 transitional shelters and 480 hygienic sanitary latrines in the cyclone devastated areas of Mirzaganj and Bakerganj will be completed by January 2009. To celebrate the progress and process of rebuilding after the disaster, HFHI-B and its partners held a Shelter Handing-Over Ceremony at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka on 29 November 2008.

The ceremony featured speeches from Mr. Sayed Ershad Ahmed, President, American Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh, and, Mr. B.M.M. Mozharul Huq, Advisor, Humanitarian Response Team, Disaster Management Cluster, UNDP. The Chief Guest, and Guest of Honor respectively.

Mr. Ahmed explained to the audience, “I feel proud that Chevron Bangladesh and other individual donors from Bangladesh came forward generously and chose a trustworthy organization, such as Habitat for Humanity International, that was focused on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Sidr affected families.”

Mr. Shah Muhammad Nasim, Deputy Secretary from the NGO Affairs Bureau, Kelly Koch, National Director of Habitat Bangladesh, Mr. MK Aaref, National Board member, Md. Abul Bashar, CSRP Project Manager, and donor partners in the project: Chevron Bangladesh, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) and UNICEF Bangladesh, also spoke during the ceremony.

Under the Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project (CSRP) of Habitat Bangladesh, 450 houses were constructed in Mirzaganj and Amragachi Union in Patuakahli District in partnership with US based charity organization Christian Aid Ministries. Another 30 shelters were constructed in Bakerganj in the District of Barisal through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program of Habitat in partnership with its longest CSR partner Chevron Bangladesh.

Along with the above-mentioned funding, HFHI entities in the Netherlands and Great Britain supported the over all shelter project and the construction of 480 hygienic toilets and the hygiene promotion training funded by UNICEF Bangladesh.

The impact of HFHI-B’s work has been significant. Shelter recipient, Aleya Begum, described her family’s situation at the time of the cyclone: “My husband was not at home at that time. Only the children and I were at home. Floodwater swallowed everything and left nothing behind. Everything was lost; our entire house including plates, pillows, blankets, doors and even our livelihood of ducks, chickens.” Aleya was impressed with the work of HFHI-B and the volunteers that spent their time at the project. She said that she expects “a tremendous change in our lives,” in terms of her children’s education, the ability to lock and secure their house to live safely and improved hygiene standards with a concrete toilet.

“The impact of Habitat’s work has been huge to these families who otherwise would today still be left in inadequate shelter or worse yet, homeless – vulnerable to the multitude of effects resulting from inadequate housing as well as future severe weather conditions” said Kelly Koch, National Director, HFHI Bangladesh.

The ceremony was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the success of HFHI-B’s Disaster Response Program following the devastation of Sidr. In addition, the ceremony provided an opportunity for all those involved with the Project, and those who recognize the importance of Habitat’s work to come together and celebrate.

Message from the National Director of Habitat for Humanity International – Bangladesh:

Seasons Greetings from Habitat Bangladesh!

The last couple of months have been busy at HFHI-B with celebrations, new initiatives and of course, building new homes! One of our recent highlights was the Core Shelter Handing Over Ceremony of the Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project (CSRP). The ceremony marked the official end of the CSRP that has been operating in southern Bangladesh since January 2008. We had the opportunity to hear from three shelter beneficiaries who spoke of their emotional turmoil when the cyclone struck. Their gratitude and thanksgiving reminded us at HFHI-B how our work in providing decent, affordable and safe homes for low-income people of Bangladesh is making a real difference to people’s lives.

As we approach the Christmas season, we are given the opportunity to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth was associated with homelessness and lack of shelter as his parents did not own a decent shelter where baby Jesus could be born.

Mother Mary gave birth in a stable, wrapped Jesus and laid him in a manger. Mary's helplessness can be seen today in Bangladesh where 70% of the population lives in inadequate and substandard housing.

Let us keep those in our thoughts and prayers who will spend Christmas just like any other day without a decent home to provide them with warmth, comfort and safety.

I wish you and your families a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your generous support for Habitat Bangladesh and we look forward to continued partnership in 2009!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Core Shelter Handing Over Ceremony of the Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project

DHAKA, 29 November 2008 – Habitat for Humanity International - Bangladesh held a Core Shelter Handing Over Ceremony of the Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project (CSRP) at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.

The ceremony marked the official handing over of 480 transitional shelters and 480 sanitary latrines for victims of Cyclone Sidr in Bakerganj and Mirzaganj in southern Bangladesh.

The Chief Guest for the ceremony was Mr Sayed Ershad Ahmed, President of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). AmCham have long been a supporter of Habitat Bangladesh and welcomed the opportunity to play a role on this important occasion. Habitat Bangladesh used the ceremony as an opportunity to thank its donors for the duration of the project. Donors included Christian Aid Ministries, Chevron Bangladesh and UNICEF.

During his speech, Mr Ershad Ahmed said, “I feel proud that Chevron Bangladesh and other individual donors from Bangladesh came forward generously and chose a trustworthy organization, such as Habitat for Humanity International, that was focused on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Sidr affected families.”
Chevron Bangladesh is HFHI-B’s longest running corporate donor. Mr Naser Ahmed, Director of External Affairs of Chevron, spoke proudly of the partnership between HFHI-B and Chevron. “It is great for us to have an opportunity to give back to the community through our CSR partnership with Habitat Bangladesh. As we have heard from the beneficiaries today, Cyclone Sidr caused an enormous amount of damage, and every shelter makes a difference.”

A number of other dignitaries spoke during the ceremony, including the Guest of Honor, Mr B.M.M Mozharul Huq, Advisor of the Humanitarian Response Team (HRT) of the Disaster Management Cluster of UNDP, and the chair of the Shelter Working Group. Special Guest, Mr Regis Garandeau, Consultant of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene from UNICEF, HFHI-B’s newest partner. Mr Shah Muhammad Nasim, Deputy Secretary from the NGO Affairs Bureau, Mr M.K. Aaref, HFHI-B National Board representative, Mr Arnold Eby, Bangladesh Coordinator of Christian Aid Ministries, Mr Md. Abul Bashar, Project Manager of CSRP, Ms Kelly Koch, National Director, HFHI-B, and finally, three homeowners who shared their stories among the guests.
The ceremony provided a perfect platform for HFHI-B to showcase the success of the CSRP to the business and NGO communities in Bangladesh. As Kelly Koch, National Director of HFHI-B said ““The impact of Habitat’s work has been great to these families who otherwise would today still be left in inadequate shelter or worse yet, homeless – vulnerable to the multitude of effects resulting from inadequate housing as well as future severe weather conditions.”
If the success of the CSRP is any indication, Habitat Bangladesh can expect to continue to forge fruitful partnerships into the future.