>Habitat for Humanity, a charity founded in 1976, is currently operating house-building sites around the world, in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to eliminate poverty housing in the world. The houses are built by volunteers, working side by side with the future inhabitants of the houses, with professional Habitat constructors drawing up and overseeing the work. The houses are paid for by micro-loans to the future inhabitants, which they pay back over time, with little or no interest.

In November 2007, I joined a team going to work on a site in Shaoguan, in the Guangdong Province of southern China. The area had been badly hit by floods in the summer of 2007, and many of the mud-based houses that the villagers had lived in had been destroyed. The project was therefore to build new, safe housing, made out of brick, for the homeless families. At the moment, they had been moved to other villages, where they were living with their relatives, or they had been crammed in with the other villagers in the houses that remained standing. When the two new houses will be ready, they will house 6 families each, and will give them safe housing to live in. The houses were set to be read by Chinese New Year, which is on February 7th.

The local people in the village rely on farming for their subsistence, growing bamboo and rice, keeping chicken and pigs. Poor, but not starving, the people we met seemed to be in reasonable health. The villagers were friendly and mild, keeping a certain distance from us, but expressing their happiness with our help. The landscape was beautiful in this area, with rolling, green hills wherever one turned.

Thank you all again for your support of Habitat! Your generosity was really amazing. Being there in China, I had a strong feeling that the work that Habitat does aroud the world is essential, and I was very happy to be able to lend a hand to it.

The village and its people

>The villagers lived a simple, rural lifestyle, where people and animals co-exist, and one makes use of the tools and resources that are available. There was an interesting mix between some more modern technology (a few cell phones here and there, a tractor), with the prevalence of extremely manual processes, in for example the feeding of the pigs and cows.