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VSA and Habitat for Humanity team up on house-building projects

Published on 11th July 2013

VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) and Habitat for Humanity have teamed up in a new partnership to provide construction consultants (known as block leaders) for Habitat for Humanity house-building projects.

andrew baker in samoa

Andrew Baker in Samoa.

Under the partnership agreement VSA will initially contribute independently-raised funding to help recruit and pay the travel and in-country costs for block leaders to oversee Habitat for Humanity projects in Vietnam, Nepal and Cambodia. There are plans to eventually extend the programme into the Pacific.  

The first VSA/Habitat for Humanity volunteer, Andrew Baker, is due to arrive in the Vietnamese region of Tien Giang on 14 July, where he will spend a month as a block leader reporting to the Habitat for Humanity Vietnam country director. Andrew’s next block leader assignment will be in East Nepal with a team of 50 New Zealand volunteers building three bamboo houses in the village of Ghailadubba.

Andrew Baker is an experienced volunteer with both VSA and Habitat for Humanity.

The former Auckland technology teacher worked as a VSA volunteer in Tokelau from 2009 to 2011. He then spent four months in 2011 as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia, setting up a project in which  53 volunteers joined with 200 other Habitat volunteers to built 25 sun-dried-brick homes for families in just five days.  Andrew was also a block leader for big builds in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2012.

He is currently on a VSA assignment with ADRA in Samoa, helping to repair houses damaged by last year’s Cyclone Evan.  A second VSA/Habitat for Humanity volunteer is expected to carry on with the Cyclone Evan project until the beginning of September.  

A third VSA/Habitat for Humanity volunteer is expected to go to Cambodia in October, also in the capacity of a block leader.

Both organisations have welcomed the new partnership, saying it fits well with the work they do, and with their vision of a helping to create a more equal, just society.

VSA’s Partnerships Manager Ruth Harrison says that as a development agency, VSA sees good housing as central to improving quality of life.

“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to help provide the volunteers needed to make sure that Habitat’s projects run smoothly and produce good outcomes ¬–  and particularly to increase the capacity of the local people who have called for these initiatives.”

Claire Szabo, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, says she is thrilled with the new partnership.

“Habitat’s work relies on volunteer participation, so this is a good fit between our organisations. Using the strengths of both organisations, we look forward together to seeing many more housing outcomes in the Asia-Pacific region”


habitat signing

CEO Claire Szabo and CEO Gill Greer signing the Memorandum of Understanding between Habitat for Humanity and VSA.


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