Habitat for Humanity: Building in Fiji

Senior Lauren Sekiguchi and Junior Madoka Kumamaru reflect on their November 17-21 explorations trip to Nadi, Fiji. Lauren and Madoka, along with 25 other high school students, traveled to Nadi to construct houses as part of their explorations week trip and Habitat for Humanity club activities.

Lauren Sekiguchi, Senior

There are few things in life that are as valuable as the act of helping others. During Explorations week, I had the opportunity to construct houses with 25 members of our Habitat for Humanity club in Nadi, Fiji, for two families in need. Both families had suffered the loss of their homes due to recent natural disasters, as well as the devastating losses of their husbands/fathers.

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Our first two days at the site entailed long hours of digging holes in the ground to stabilize the wooden pillars for the house. Over the remainder of the week, we sawed thick planks of wood, connecting them with strips of metal to construct the foundation and walls of the house. Many times I found myself struggling to push through the work due to muscle fatigue, but I was motivated to persevere by the smiles and laughs of the local community children.

On the final work day, we had the house naming ceremony, where our team gave our house a name and presented it to the homeowners. As the senior leader on the trip, I had the opportunity to present the house to the family. My team named our house “希望 (kibou),” which means hope in Japanese. We built 希望 as a symbol of our hope that the family and surrounding community would be able to build better lives for themselves.

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Overall, my final Habitat for Humanity trip with ASIJ was a wonderful, yet bittersweet, experience. Working with Habitat through ASIJ over the past three years has opened my eyes to the issue of disparity of wealth in the world and has motivated me to continue to make a difference as I move into the next phase of my life.

Madoka Kumamaru, Junior

As a new member of Habitat for Humanity and a new student at ASIJ, being given the opportunity to visit Fiji was something I had found unique to ASIJ and incredibly rewarding. From the first day, we were immersed into the culture of Fiji, taught certain customs and learned ways to communicate better with locals. We were welcomed with warm greetings and exclamations of “bula” from both the locals and employees of Habitat for Humanity.

On the first day of construction, we approached a work site, entirely barren aside from pieces of wood which protruded from the four corners of the foundation and a line of string connecting each one. The process began with digging holes for the foundation, and by the end of the day we had completed the basic foundation as we filled the holes with logs and cement. From the second day, we started on the general framework of the house with the skilled workers at the site who helped us through each step. The following days consisted of completing one task after another, encompassing work where we would build doors, assist in making the frame and help put together the floor to the ceiling.

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As the final nail was hammered in before the dedication ceremony, everyone erupted in applause. The dedication ceremony was particularly memorable as we presented the house we had the privilege to help build to the two families who will begin to call the house “home.” Both the work put into the construction and the bonds we formed with the community will be something I recall with fondness when looking back on this amazing experience.