Build a dream birth­day

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KELLY DEN­NETT

IT WON’T be a typ­i­cal trop­i­cal beach hol­i­day but Suanna Smith is hop­ing you’ll go with her any­way.

The Auck­land woman was quick to jump at the idea of cel­e­brat­ing her 30th birth­day in Fiji.

But she de­cided to forgo the tan­ning and mar­gar­i­tas and do some­thing gen­er­ous with her time in­stead.

She’s gath­er­ing a team of 10 to 15 to help her build a dream home for a Fi­jian fam­ily in Labasa and wants to hear from any­body who can help.

Smith, her sis­ter Emma, a few friends and hope­fully some kind strangers will go there with Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity in Septem­ber.

They’ll spend five days con­struct­ing a sim­ple twobed­room home along­side the ben­e­fit­ing fam­ily who will make monthly re­pay­ments to­ward the house.

It’s the first vol­un­tary DIY project Smith has un­der­taken and she’s com­pleted a few lessons at the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s South Auck­land base to pre­pare.

For­tu­nately Habi­tat is happy to take people will­ing to learn some ba­sic skills.

‘‘But if you’ve got a first aid cer­tifi­cate or build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence your skills will be utilised in some way,’’ Smith says. ‘‘If prac­ti­cal, hands-on skills aren’t your forte there’s still a role for you and it’s not just mak­ing cups of tea.’’

Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity fam­ily sup­port ad­min­is­tra­tor Jane Mead says Smith’s birth­day present to her­self is a huge coup for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

It can be dif­fi­cult to get vol­un­teers will­ing to spend the time and money to travel over­seas, she says.

‘‘But I’ve said that it’s such a dif­fer­ent kind of hol­i­day,’’ Mead says. ‘‘It’s an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting to know lo­cals and their way of life. It’s very re­ward­ing.’’

Smith has seven friends and fam­ily con­firmed to go on the trip and is look­ing for at least an­other three or four to jet off on Septem­ber 27.

The cost is about $3400 each which in­cludes air fares, ac­com­mo­da­tion and food while on the five-day build.

It’s paid to Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity which does the ma­jor­ity of the or­gan­is­ing for the trav­el­ling group.

Smith is look­ing for­ward to the trip.

‘‘What’s im­por­tant to me is that we’ll be work­ing along­side the people who the house is go­ing to be for.

‘‘Not only do you get the buzz of know­ing that the room your paint­ing is go­ing to be the baby’s room but you get some ben­e­fit yourself know­ing you’ve con­trib­uted to a com­mu­nity.’’

Photo: KELLY DEN­NETT

Hands on: Suanna Smith is cel­e­brat­ing her 30th birth­day by tak­ing an un­usual trop­i­cal hol­i­day.

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