Building habitats and partnerships
By Lindsay Isaac
A new proposal for Western students helping out in the Philippines has emerged.
Craig Smith, leader of the Japan-based chapter of Habitat for Humanity and a former Londoner, has proposed to build a partnership between Western and the University of Foreign Studies in Kyoto. Smith made this proposal last week while attending a conference in London.
Harold Byne, chair of London's branch of Habitat for Humanity, said his Board of Directors is excited about the proposed partnership. "It's a great way to really make a difference."
Habitat for Humanity provides housing for employed families which are in need of a house but cannot afford to purchase one, Byne explained. "Our mandate is to select a hardworking family who cannot obtain a house due to insufficient funds, that have jobs and can pay a habitat mortgage."
This alliance would send students from Western along with those from Kyoto to start the groundwork for 250 new houses. "We are hoping to finish the village that we have started in the Philippines," Smith said. "My students in Japan could really use the help of Western students with fund-raising and the actual construction of the houses."
Jim Crimmins, dean of arts and social science at Huron College, was approached by Smith about the idea of involving Western students in his efforts in the Philippines.
"It was suggested that students may be interested in adding onto the exchange program that is now in the works with the University of Foreign Studies in Kyoto," Crimmins said. "It is an interesting thought."
As there is an academic exchange in the works for students to spend a semester studying in Kyoto, Smith said he thought those students involved could visit the Philippines with his group. "It would be a change from a regular exchange, a way for students to help those really in need."
Smith said he also hopes to involve students who are not part of the exchange program but are interested in helping Kyoto's branch of Habitat for Humanity. "If students are interested in this kind of work, they could plug in with us for a one-time experience to help."
Smith explained he felt Western was a good choice to target as it is his Alma Mater and because the two universities are going to be involved in an exchange program. "I would like to work with Western students on this because of the exchange. We have a partnership," he said.
The London branch of Habitat for Humanity focuses on those in need in nearby communities, while other chapters are more internationally-based. "We concentrate on local efforts and have built four houses in London," Byne said.
Smith said he is planning a work camp in the Philippines from Feb. 7 to 17 and will be back in London before the end of the year to work out the remaining details of the project.