Build­ing more than a house

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

In­ter­na­tional flight at­ten­dant Kyle Fowler will be swap­ping the drinks trol­ley for a tool belt to build houses for the needy.

The One­hunga man is lead­ing a team of vol­un­teers to China in Septem­ber for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, a non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion which aims to elim­i­nate poverty hous­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally.

He be­came in­volved with the or­gan­i­sa­tion last year when he trav­elled to Ro­ma­nia as a vol­un­teer. Now he’s hooked. “I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. I got a sense of grat­i­tude for what I have and the chance for my fo­cus to be less about me.

“It’s of­fer­ing some­thing of your­self to oth­ers,” he says.

He typed the word “vol­un­teer” into an in­ter­net search en­gine and Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity came up.

“I had never heard of it be­fore, al­though it’s been go­ing for 30 years. I aligned some of my val­ues and skills with theirs and thought I could make a dif­fer­ence.”

Mr Fowler has some home handy­man skills but says it doesn’t mat­ter if peo­ple have no build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The fun­da­men­tal thing is there’s al­ways some­thing some­one can con­trib­ute.”

On his last trip there were peo­ple aged from 16 to 60 and ev­ery­one was able to do tasks to help.

The fam­ily who will re­ceive the house also pitches in, do­ing 500 hours of labour on it along­side the vol­un­teers.

Mr Fowler en­joyed his ex­pe­ri­ence in Ro­ma­nia so much, he signed up to lead his own team and chose China as the des­ti­na­tion.

“I thought what a cool idea to add some value and hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort to a place which is all doom and gloom in the press at the mo­ment.”

He is look­ing for a team of 10 peo­ple to sign up for the trip.

Vol­un­teers pay for their own flights and also pay a cer­tain amount to cover trip costs. Mr Fowler will be seek­ing spon­sor­ship to help cover the costs for vol­un­teers, who will meet up with an­other team from Canada.

The teams will work to­gether in China and visit the sights on rest days.

Vol­un­teer pro­grammes co­or­di­na­tor Dawn Lehman says New Zealand sends about 10 vol­un­teer teams over­seas each year.

“It’s a re­ally pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to go to a dif­fer­ent coun­try, a dif­fer­ent cul­ture where peo­ple may or may not speak your lan­guage and work to­wards a com­mon goal of get­ting a house up.

“You de­velop a con­nec­tion that couldn’t be made any other way.”

Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing Mr Fowler’s team or of­fer­ing spon­sor­ship can con­tact him on 021-432-141 or mr­fowler­surfin@par­adise.


Handy Man: Kyle Fowler is lead­ing a team of voun­teers to build houses for the needy in China.

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