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Samoa House Rebuilding Commences

For immediate release: November 10th 2009

Samoa House Rebuilding Commences

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand is now sending the first few teams of volunteer tradespeople to Samoa to start the rebuilding of homes after the recent tsunami disaster.

The Samoan Government has requested Habitat NZ to oversee the rebuilding of approximately 325 Fale. Caritas Samoa has also requested Habitat NZ to build approximately 25 Fale for them. These 350 Fale will be built under the construction leadership of Habitat. It is expected that the number may grow still as the number of families who actually lost a home in the tsunami is still being assessed.

A Fale is a traditional Samoan home with concrete floor, no walls, timber trusses and iron roof, supported by multiple poles. The Government has sanctioned that all rebuilt Fale will be one standard design, with cyclone resistant features. There will be an outside ablution block with shower and flush toilet, and a water tank for supply of rain water to be collected from the roof, for both purposes.

The Fale building programme is the urgent first response of the Samoan Government to provide shelter to as many families as possible. Some damaged homes may be able to be repaired, and nicer homes will no doubt also be rebuilt over time by those families that can afford them. Habitat NZ is only partnering with the Samoan Government in the first response Fale rebuilding. Habitat NZ has been assisted throughout with guidance from the Samoa Tsunami 2009 Appeal Charitable Trust Chaired by the Consul General of Samoa Faolotoi R Pogi. Another group headed by several key leaders of Samoan Christian Churches, called Rebuild Samoa, continues to be instrumental in assisting Habitat raise funds for rebuilding.

HFHNZ are currently setting up an HRC (Habitat Resource Centre) at Lepa on the southeast coast of Upolu, closest to the hardest hit areas by the tsunami. The HRC is designed to have all building materials delivered there, materials cut and processed, trusses manufactured, such that a core kitset house can be delivered to the final site and quickly erected.

The first team of Kiwi tradespeople have been in Samoa for nearly two weeks now setting up this HRC. The second team is on its way to Samoa today to commence the building of Fales. A team of 10 tradespersons will be sent to Samoa each week, staying for an average of two weeks each, with the number sent on each weekly team expected to grow once more building sites are ready. Habitat is in the process of shipping vehicles, equipment and tools to Samoa for the duration of the 6 to 8 months it is expected to build the 350 Fale.

Habitat for Humanity NZ CEO Pete North says the organisation has been inundated with volunteers wanting to help rebuild homes in Samoa. “In the first few weeks after the tsunami we were getting as many as 250 phone calls per day, from people wanting to help. We now have 600+ written expressions of interest from people from all walks of life. In the early stages we want only tradespeople, later on we can accept unskilled volunteers who want to help, as long as we keep tradespersons in charge of overseeing the work.”

Mr. North says Habitat needs more Builders in particular to “volunteer for post Christmas stages, as rebuilding will take 6 to 8 months and we can’t send everybody at once in the first month.” And a critical element to this rebuilding process is that the Samoan community are empowered to do the work, with NZ leadership and skills training provided at the same time.
Every Volunteer is paying their own way, covering their own costs of airfares, food and transport within Samoa. A critical part in keeping the cost down has been the very generous support provided to Habitat for Humanity NZ by Air New Zealand with both seats and cargo.

Interested volunteers should visit Habitats website www.habitat.org.nz to find out more.

Mr. North says “It isn’t only more volunteer builders that we need. Whilst the Samoan Government is funding the bulk portion of house material costs, Habitat NZ needs substantial funds to project manage the rebuilding programme, with hiring of Samoan staff, provision of vehicles, equipment and tools, and for a number of items left out of the house costings. New Zealanders have been so generous with the outpouring of donations and aid for the emergency response phase. We now face the longer term rebuilding phase, and Habitat NZ still require $380,000 to see this project through to completion.” If you can help, donate by visiting www.habitat.org.nz/donate and select Project Samoa Hope.

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand has helped more than 350 families into their own homes in New Zealand since its establishment in 1992 and internationally helps more than 60,000 families per year into homes with its aim of eliminating poverty housing worldwide.

ends

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