WHILE most students enjoyed their time off during the Easter holidays, nine civic minded Transition Year students from Hamilton High School in Bandon gave up time to volunteer with a housing charity in Romania.
Accompanied by two teachers, they volunteered to work with housing charity Habitat for Humanity Ireland, which was founded in 2002 and seeks to bring people together to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
‘This is the first time our school has taken part in this project and it was a brilliant learning experience for the students who have been fundraising for this since last October. Over 36 fundraising events from coffee mornings to quizzes and street collections were held by the students and they raised an incredible total of €19,675 before they left for Romania,’ said Damian Mitchell, team leader and Deputy Principal of Hamilton High School.
‘The Habitat motto is no mere pithy slogan - it really is a case of “a hand up, not a hand out.”’
The students and teachers spent one week in the community of Cumpana, where they contributed to the internal work and plastering of a new duplex housing development. They worked alongside local builders, community members and Habitat partner families who were in need of safe and decent homes.
‘As a result of working side by side with those who directly benefitted from our efforts in Cumpana, our students saw that they were doing more than building homes – they were helping to build a community. We spent the week plastering and we all got stuck in and it was good hard physical work. ‘
One of the participating students, Olan Corcoran from Newcestown described it as ‘a life changing experience’ which opened their eyes to what they can do for those in need.
‘I’ve definitely learned to appreciate more of what I have and what’s more important, what others don’t have,’ said Olan.
Habitat for Humanity has been constructing homes in Romania for almost 20 years and has helped more than 64,000 people build or improve a place they can call home.
‘Everyone deserves a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. A home brings with it stability, security and a hope for a brighter future and that’s a powerful thing to provide for a family,’ said Mary McGarry, International Programme manager at Habitat for Humanity Ireland.
‘The Hamilton High School volunteers’ awareness raising and fundraising efforts and hard work in Romania are contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 11 by helping the community of Cumpana inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.’
In Romania, 35% of families live in substandard housing with two thirds of low income families living in rural areas and more than half of these communities have no access to piped water. Every year, teams like Hamilton High School travel to Romania to work with local families and community members to help improve living conditions.
For more information about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Ireland or to help raise awareness of global housing issues through Habitat’s ‘Build Solid Ground’ campaign, visit www.habitatireland.ie