Rocking the House in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Employees from Australian companies USG Boral and Boral volunteered once again for the ‘Rock the House’ project led by Habitat for Humanity Australia. The 12 volunteers headed to Yogyakarta, Indonesia in October last as part of the one-week charitable programme to build two houses for the Selopamioro community. Habitat is working with the community on a five-year project.

The Boral volunteers were supported by local supervising contractors as well as the beneficiary families who will ultimately live in the new homes.

USG Boral’s Tom Venman, the vice-captain of ‘Team Boral’ and captain of one of two build crews, took a break from his role as plasterboard team leader at the company’s Sydney facility. Tom was joined by Emil Plej, a USG Boral veteran of 23 years, currently in the role of technical sales manager based in Western Australia.

The Habitat for Humanity Australia ‘Rock the House’ goal was to build six houses with help from 50 Australian volunteers. Though the weather was hot and humid, the absence of rain during daytime helped the teams maximise productivity throughout the week. Team Boral built two homes to just above door height, clearing the site, digging the footings, mixing concrete, breaking up rocks, laying bricks, and positioning window and door frames.

Emil Plej said that they worked closely with the families, communicating with the help of a Habitat for Humanity translator and sign language. The beneficiary families, who are poor and comprise of multiple generations living together – were previously residing in ramshackle homes, with timber, thatching, dirt floors and very basic sanitation.

The newly-built homes offer 30 to 45 square metres of living space and feature bathrooms plumbed to a septic tank. Team Boral fundraised more than AU$28,000 for the build, which also helped to provide water and sanitation, irrigation and other amenities for the broader community.

Boral was participating in the ‘Rock the House’ project for the second time as part of the company’s ‘Building Community Resilience’ partnership with Habitat for Humanity Australia. Earlier this year, USG Boral partnered with Habitat for Humanity in the Asia-Pacific region, supporting the Impact Asia campaign in 11 countries where both USG Boral and Habitat for Humanity operate.

Emil added that he joined the project based on feedback from colleagues who had previously taken part in the programme. As a first-time volunteer, Emil found the experience very humbling, making him look at life differently.

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