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Batam Build: Community Rejuvenation in Kabil Village

I was on the waiting list for a quarter before I was given the express pass to participate for the first time in Batam Build by Habitat for Humanity. The experience to put a real home together, brick by brick was priceless. It was hard work, but my team consisting of the 9 volunteers really bonded even till today. It's true that when you come together to do good, even greater things come out of it. Thank you for the great friendship we continue to foster!

Batam Build is designed as a short-term alternative for those who are unable to take a long break to participate in meaningful home building projects. Builds can be as short as 1 day, where participants can leave in the morning, build for half a day and return to Singapore in the evening. The maximum trip length for Batam Build is 2 days.

Since 2014, Habtiat's building efforts in Batam have been focused on transforming Kabil Village, a sub-district of Nongsa located in the Western side of the island. 40% of its over 20,000 residents live in substandard houses built using scrap wood and tin sheets. These small shacks are susceptible to water leaks, floods and sometimes structural collapse during the monsoon season.
Habitat aims to improve the standard of living for 1,000 families through the reconstruction of new homes, improving the current water, drainage and electricity system.

With just 1/2 a day on site, we managed to accomplish 10 brick layers for the house. This is the height to start on the windows

The completion of the house will be the effort of 2 - 3 teams

The 1 bedroom house that we helped to build will eventually belong to Mr. Maheli. M (27) and his wife, Ezi Arda (30). They have 2 young children. Maheli works as a loading/unloading labourer.
What the family was staying in previously

There are many holes and fissures in every corner of the house, roof and on the walls of the house. With such conditions, it is easy for pests and animals to enter the house, especially mosquitoes and rats. Maheli’s wife said they have not been able to repair their house because her husband income as a loading/unloading labour is only enough for the family’s food needs. Therefore, they are resigned to live in the present condition. ‘Indeed, salary is hard to be saved up. Everything runs out just to buy basic needs. Moreover, the salary of a loading and unloading labourer is only little’ said Ezi.

The plywood-walled house has begun to look weathered, possibly caused by termites and rain overtime. Ezi said the material they used to build the house came from used material. Maheli’s wife, Ezi tries to help find additional income by opening a small business where she sells food and drinks to children around her neighbourhood. ‘Yes I am trying to find extra money, especially since my children have grown older, it is not enough to just rely on the salary of my husband, said Ezi.

Her eldest son will enter elementary school soon and certainly the burden on this family will get heavier. Maheli as the breadwinner of the family has not been able to do much to improve the welfare of his family. Therefore, Maheli submits his application as a Habitat partner, hoping that their house can be one of the houses that will be helped to be rebuilt to become a more decent house for them to live in. ‘We have heard a lot about the habitat residents here, hopefully our house can also be improved,’ said Ezi.


As of 6th September 2019, Maheli and his family have been living in their new home.

Since then, Maheli has tiled the floors in the house so that his children can play comfortably at home. “When my children were playing, I saw that the floor was dusty so I immediately put ceramic”, says Maheli. He also intends to continue beautifying the house. Maheli and his wife (Ezi) have been discussing which part of the house they should focus on building first; whether to add on a kitchen or beautify the existing terrace space first. It seems that their final decision will be to focus on beautifying the space on the terrace of their house so that Maheli’s wife will be able to sell snacks. He says that “If there is fortune, I would want to build a stall in front of the house so that my wife can sell small groceries because all this time, my wife has only been selling children's snacks in front of the house”. His wife also expressed the same enthusiasm, stating that “Hopefully, I will be able to start a small business soon so that I can contribute to our family's income”.

Maheli acknowledged that the presence of this house renovation program provided a respite for them especially in the area of finances. “For our family, this is great progress because there is no longer a need to think about the condition of our house. Now, we can focus on raising children, making money, and saving for our children's educational needs later,” says Maheli. Ezi agrees, adding on that much of their problems have been overcome with the completion of this house because “there are no leaks anymore, the house is cooler and also so much more sturdy”. Ezi also shared that having the volunteers building their house helped her learn how to share with others better. She cited that “the spirit of the volunteers, their expertise in doing work, and staying enthusiastic despite the heat,” contributed to this. Maheli also expresses his gratitude, saying that “Of course we will remember their kindness. Thanks to them, we now feel that we live in a decent home”. They also said that they will always remember to keep the volunteer teams in prayer, as well as the donors and Habitat staff who continue to oversee the construction of homes.

Build Trip Information:
• Batam Build trips are 1-2 days long.
• Team size is a minimum of 8 to maximum 10 volunteers.
• Minimum age for volunteers is 15 years old on the date of the build trip.
• Volunteers must be reasonably fit with no serious injuries or medical conditions.
• Every team will have a Habitat host coordinator in Batam as their on-site liaison.
• No prior building experience is required. Volunteers will be trained & supervised by locally employed construction supervisors and Habitat staff.
• Volunteers will also be working alongside the family who is receiving the Habitat house.
• Construction tasks volunteers will do include Hand-mixing cement, carrying & laying bricks for walls or tying reinforcement bars.

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