One just like that

Homeowner Elesi Naso with international volunteers who built her house in four days at Sabeto Village in Nadi. On Elesi's right is turga ni yavusa Sivaniolo Varo. Picture: SUPPLIED

Homeowner Elesi Naso with international volunteers who built her house in four days at Sabeto Village in Nadi. On Elesi's right is turga ni yavusa Sivaniolo Varo. Picture: SUPPLIED

IT was a dream come true when 20 Habitat for Humanity Fiji volunteers finished building a house for a single mother of two in four days in Sabeto, Nadi. Forty five-year-old Elesi Naso could not contain tears of joy when (HFH) Fiji presented her a finished house.

“This is the best thing that has happened to me in years and I am just so happy and thankful to people who thought about me. There is hope and I feel very blessed,” said Elesi.

Life has been a struggle for her after two unsuccessful marriages, ending with no roof over her head and no source of income.

“Life becomes very difficult when you don’t have a place of your own and without any money. I have two children to look after and to have a good house, was always on my mind. I faced rejection by my very own family and was temporarily staying with relatives.

“I am also unemployed so basically I was at a very down moment of my life when suddenly something good happened to me. My prayers were answered in the end when Habitat agreed to build my house,” said Elesi.

And she went the extra mile to ensure things happened.

“I once saw a Habitat house in one village in Nadi and said to myself ‘I want a house just like that’ as it looked very nice.

“So I began finding out from that day where is this Habitat; what are the requirements and things to be done so I could qualify for a house. I even went to the district officer a few times to ensure they would support me and understand my situation.

“I was positive something good would happen in the end,” said Elesi, who began her groundwork last year.

She cannot describe the feeling when received the news.

“I got the good news from Habitat early this year and I could not believe it. I kept asking the lady on the phone if it was real,” she said with a big laugh.

“Suddenly, I could picture all good things happening to me and my children because we were going to get a house. This house means the world to me and my children.

“I have faced a lot of struggles in life, thanks to Habitat all those troubling moments will now end. I cannot express how happy I am to have a place of my own.”

Elesi’s daughter Mereani Batinivulagi is in Year 3 and her son Ilaitia Nanele is in Year 12.

Elesi could not help but cry tears of joy as she was welcomed and invited by the volunteers into her newly-built house in Sabeto Village. Working with the volunteers added to her excitement of getting a new house.

“I thought it will be just Habitat staff who would build my house but I was amazed to see so many volunteers from different countries come to Fiji just to build me a house all the way in Sabeto. The volunteers are so humble and friendly. I felt very lucky and proud at the same time,” said Elesi.

Sabeto Village turaga ni yavusa Sivaniolo Varo said he was humbled by the kind gesture shown by the international volunteers.

“Vinaka vakalevu to people from all the different countries who came to build a house here in Sabeto. This is the first time someone from outside came build in my community, for my people. God bless you all as this means a lot to us,” he said.

Volunteers team Leader Jenna Grubman said it was a great experience for all volunteers who enjoyed Fijian hospitality.

“There was so much the community gave back to us and it was just a wonderful experience to be in Sabeto. The volunteers blended in very well with each other as well as with the community. The villagers made us feel so welcome and are so gentle. It’s an experience we will never forget,” said Ms Grubman.

(HFH) Fiji’s build initiative known as Pacific Build is part of Habitat for Humanity’s largest youth-focused movement known as Habitat Young Leaders Build in the Asia-Pacific region. Volunteers from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the US partnered with Habitat for Humanity Fiji to build Elesi’s home.

Habitat’s Young Leaders Build Campaign 2018 aims to mobilise 4.5 million youths in Asia Pacific to volunteer, raise funds and speak out for the cause of affordable housing under the theme of Play Lead Share. A major build event with more than 80 volunteers also built houses in Myanmar.

* Dorine Narayan is the manager communications for Habitat for Humanity Fiji.

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