Corinne Lee and Alison Tsoi from our Auckland studio recently participated in a one week build project in Fiji organised by Habitat for Humanity.
Corinne and Alison were joined by 12 other young working professionals from the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, as part of a pilot programme (Habitat Young Leaders Build) aimed at growing young leaders in the field of humanitarian aid. The team worked so well with each other that the build was completed a whole day ahead of schedule!
The build involved completing a 'transitional shelter' for a local Fijian woman, Elesi, and her daughter. Living in exceptionally difficult circumstances both physically and mentally, Elesi hopes her new home will be the start of her regaining independence and confidence in supporting both her family and herself.
Rudimentary tools and materials were used throughout the build (these were what were available, donated and accessible to the site). Through stellar teamwork and sheer perseverance in tricky environmental conditions, a steel-clad, timber-framed 6m x 4m pod was erected over 4 days. A key feature of these transitional shelters is the many cyclone ties that make them resilient to cyclones regularly threatening damage to the villages in Fiji. Update:Cyclone Josie that swept through the country just two weeks later (claiming four lives and destroying property). The house remains intact and was able to shelter Elesi and her family safely during the cyclone.
Even though the transitional shelter is simple, this is the beginning of Elesi's future. This process was an excellent example of how authentic spaces can be made by taking the time to genuinely get to know the client, listen to their stories, and celebrate with them in their successes.
This build was heavily covered by the local news, featuring on prime time news onFBC (Fiji BC) and in the local papers (the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun).
April 5, 2018