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Apr 5, 2006

Habitat for Humanity still not meeting building targets

Story PictureThe organisation is a household name, but for one reason or another, Habitat for Humanity has had a hard time living up to its creed in Belize. News Five’s Jacqueline Woods explains.

Jacqueline Woods
Thirty-eight year old Sandra Robinson, a single mother of two, is the newest homeowner thanks to Habitat for Humanity Belize. This morning Robinson officially received her keys during a brief ceremony at number 8800 Levi Slusher Street in the Port Loyola Area.

Sandra Robinson, New Homeowner
?Well I feel good. For a change at least it will be better than over that side.?

Jacqueline Woods
?What were the living conditions like before??

Sandra Robinson
?Well not too bad, but it?s gonna be better over there.?

The three bedroom house is the third to be built through a working relationship with the Ministry of National Development, Investment and Culture. Under the special partnership, a total of ten houses will be constructed.

Habitat for Humanity works with families who are in need of decent shelter. Part of the deal is that homeowners are required to invest sweat equity and literally help to build the houses. Robinson says she enjoyed the two months of manual labour.

Sandra Robinson
?Well that?s a very nice thing that everybody just get together and build, it?s very nice. … First time I ever build with other else people, so it was very good, fu communicate with other people weh wa get fi deh one build also?

Habitat for Humanity started building homes in Belize in 1999. Since then a total of forty-three buildings have been constructed across the country. According to the administrative director Carla Sainsbury, their goal is to provide at least ten homes a year, but the organisation has yet to meet that target.

Carla Sainsbury, Admin Dir., Habitat for Humanity Belize
?The fact that people have land, but they don?t have the legal documents for the land or they have land and the land is not filled, so those are some of the challenges. And too, some people come to you but when you share with them that they have to work on the house, they?re like, why do I have to do that and I have to pay back for it. But we share with them that it?s a self help programme and also it?s a programme that?s uplifting them.?

The habitat program is set up so that homeowners pay a mortgage depending on salary. In Robinson?s case, she will need to pay only two hundred dollars a month.

Carla Sainsbury
?We have things in place that we do work with them. If a family miss the first month I?ll give them a call, the second month we?ll send them a letter, the third month we?ll call the board and the board will meet with them. And if they don?t have no valuable reason why they can?t pay back the mortgage or choosing not to pay back then we can foreclose on the houses. When it comes to that we operate just like the bank, but we?ll try to work with families to the best of our ability.?

?We need volunteers, even people that has construction business, if you want to give us construction supplies that are usable not the ones that are not usable, we need usable ones. And at the same time that anybody that want to give in to the programme cause we are at the stage where they are pushing us to become self-sustainable and so we need more local funding.?

Habitat for Humanity Belize plans to hold a number of fundraising drives to construct even more homes.

Carla Sainsbury
?We are getting there. We haven?t arrived there yet, we are getting there, but we need to get there and we can?t get there without the local funding and without more houses being built and having more mortgages paid, so that?s one of the things we are striving for.?

Meanwhile Robinson says as soon as electricity and water supply have been installed she and her family will be moving into her new residence. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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