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A home to call our own

Dorine Narayan
Monday, December 04, 2017

"It was blessing my family and I had never imagined," said Sakeo Moce.

The elderly man and his family of Solomon Islanders Settlement in Newtown, Nasinu were in desperate need of a good roof over their heads after spending years in a small 4mx3m poorly structured earth floor shack without access to electricity and water.

Sakeo, 59, and his wife Makitalena, 56, both partially blind live with their three-year-old granddaughter, named after Makitalena.

The couple were over the moon when Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Fiji relayed the news that they would receive a house which is part of the non-profit organisation's annual board build initiative.

"I never thought something as good as receiving a house could happen to us. When it rained, it was very bad for us as one wall is a tarpaulin cover and there are lots of holes on the old tin roof and on the side walls. We prayed something good would happen. We had heard of Habitat for Humanity Fiji from some people so we asked if they could help us," said Sakeo.

He earns about $25 a month from cutting grass and $40 a month when there are plenty customers.

Sakeo's daughter, who lives on her own, also supports the elderly couple when she can as they look after her child.

"Life has been hard for us but it's true that there is hope. I feel very lucky and happy that I have a good house now and that we will feel safe during bad weather. Water used to come inside the old house and our things used to get wet," said Sakeo who was always hopeful of a better tomorrow.

"This house looks very strong and it is the best thing anyone could give to us. We can now also have water and electricity in this house in the future," he said with a smile and holding firmly to the side of his new house.

Makitalena said because of her happiness, she could not sleep on the first night when she moved into the 6mx3.5m house.

"I was so happy and it felt so good inside that I just could not go to bed. I was wide awake," she said with a big laugh.

"It's a joy to be in a good shelter and thank you to everyone who came here to build our home," she said.

HFH Fiji board chairperson Hamidan Bibi said the organisation's annual board build event provides a sound platform for trustees to witness first-hand home-owners and HFH Fiji staff involvement in helping reduce poor housing conditions, and how best communities in need are served.

"It helps to bring the more formal into an informal setting, whereby the needs of the organisation are seen from a different perspective as well as how best it can achieve its vision in the way of providing decent homes which people can call a 'home'," said Ms Bibi.

"We know that everyone works extremely hard to be able to achieve the goals of the organisation. Thus the presence of trustees at these events also helps empower and motivate staff, the homeowners and the community thus taking on their roles and responsibilities with greater pride and passion. We need to be in it to know it," she said.

HFH Fiji during the build also trained few members of the community on basic construction techniques known build back safer training.

* Dorine Narayan is the communications manager for Habitat for Humanity Fiji. Views expressed are hers and not of this newspaper.

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