Building more than a house
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. net.nz.
Handy Man: Kyle Fowler is leading a team of vounteers to build houses for the needy in China.