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“With the world population having surpassed seven billion this year, we must tap every person’s potential to help others. Everyone can make a difference. Volunteering matters.”
- United Nations Secretary General BAN Ki-moon
This year, some 13,900 people volunteered at Habitat for Humanity construction sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. 1,700 more participated in non-construction activities, such as advocacy and training. Of the more than 15,000 volunteers in the region, 10,400 were local—Latin American and Caribbean citizens lending a hand in their own communities.
Around the world, the spirit and solidarity of volunteerism is spreading. Young people are seeking ways to support their communities and ensure a better future for themselves and their children. Business people are responding to the call for Corporate Social Responsibility, organizing volunteer teams to help improve the communities where their businesses are located. Families are organizing to mutually help one another and better the neighborhood. Retired adults are joining social causes, leading with their wisdom and experience.
The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on December 5 (worldvolunteerweb.org).
However, the true importance of celebrating International Volunteer Day today, is what happens tomorrow. Improving the lives of families around the world is a 365-day a year task. Local and international volunteers are stepping to help.
In Haití, we heard voices of solidarity…
In México, we hear them…
In the Dominican Republic as well…
And you… What will you build?
The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October each year as World Habitat Day—a day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and to remind ourselves and our neighbors that we share a collective responsibility to defend the right to adequate shelter for all.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 national Habitat for Humanity organizations will unite with some 50 other nations in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe in simultaneous celebrations of World Habitat Day. The events will show the world that we are committed to building strong and sustainable urban communities—whatever it takes.
On October 5, please join Habitat for Humanity in support of this global observance as we come together and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.
Advocate for change
Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate the global plague of poverty housing. World Habitat Day serves as an important reminder that everyone must unite to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent place to call home.
According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem–living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security.
More than 2 million housing units per year are needed for the next 50 years to solve the present worldwide housing crisis. With our global population expanding, however, at the end of those 50 years, there would still be a need for another 1 billion houses. (UN-HABITAT: 2005)
The U.N. further states that both developed and developing countries, cities and towns are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity, population growth and economic instability.
Rapid rates of urbanization cause serious negative consequences – overcrowding, poverty, slums with many poorly equipped to meet the service demands of ever growing urban populations.
With over half of the world’s population currently living in urban areas the U.N. believes there is no doubt that the “urban agenda” will increasingly become a priority for governments, local authorities and their non-governmental partners everywhere.
Find more international statistics and research about the effects of poverty housing around the world on Habitat for Humanity’s webpage.
Spread the word by blogging about World Habitat Day! Please visit the World Habitat Day Social Media News Release for more information.
What you can do
- Show up! World Habitat Day celebrations are going on in 13 countries throughout the region. Visit our Events page to find out what’s happening near you (esp).
- Speak up! Comment on one of our social networks, or blog about poverty housing issues.
- Educate yourself and your community. Take our E-course, and learn more about housing issues in Latin America. To learn more, browse our educational resources on poverty housing in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Stay in touch. Sign up for our newsletter and keep up to date on housing news and opportunities to get involved.
- Volunteer. Visit our website to find out how you can get involved in short and long term volunteer opportunities.
- Donate. Habitat’s work is made possible through the generous contributions of those who are passionate about the cause. Make a difference in someone’s life today.
Habitat staffer Mitssy Rovira and an international team of volunteers are blogging from El Minya, Egypt in celebration of World Habitat Day 2009. Read more!
Stay tuned for more information on World Habitat Day and ways that you can educate and inspire your community to support this global observance.