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