Midland Brick Kiln Supervisor Justin Fullelove recently travelled to Indonesia to take part in Habitat for Humanity’s "Rock the House" building programme. This initiative saw twelve Boral employees build four homes for local families. Justin has written a diary about his week away...
In October last year I was fortunate to be part of a 12-member team of Boral volunteers to travel to Indonesia to take part in an amazing one-week adventure. Simply put, it was to help build houses in poor communities, but it was far from simple, and I can say without hesitation that this turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life.
It all started when I was selected to participate in the 2018 Habitat for Humanity’s "Rock the House" building programme. This is an international Habitat for Humanity enterprise that reaches out to some of the poorest communities in the world to create an environment of community strength, stability and independence. Our build was centred in the Selopamiioro Village in the Yogyakarta Province of Indonesia.
On the ground and getting ready
We were officially known as “Team Boral”, but we changed our name to “Peruaudaraan”, which in Indonesian means "brotherhood". This reflected our purpose of leaving no man or woman behind.
Our first introduction was to the family we were to build a house for. Pajorno and his wife Parti and young children all lived in a tiny house belonging to their grandparents. They are absolutely wonderful people who would visit us every day with treats and amazing smiles!
Every morning at base camp our team would present a “Tool Box Talk” and then run a warm-up and stretching session. This proved to be highly popular and became a talking point amongst the other four teams. It also gave each person a sense of our safety procedures like SWMs, Take-5s and Safe Start. It was encouraging to see the other teams adopt these safety principles throughout the week.
We would then take a 45-minute bus ride from the hotel to the village to start work.
Day 1: A real tough slog-of-a-day
On the first day, we started digging the footings for the home. This definitely challenged us, but like all good teams we pushed through the sweat and the pain to have it complete by the first day. Everybody got involved and we realised it wasn’t going to be a picnic, but a real character test!
Day 2: Mixing concrete like it was going out of business!
We filled the trenches with rocks to ensure solid footings for the home. It was then time to start more hard slog: mixing concrete, all by shovel! The team absolutely smashed it and we were mixing like it was going out of business. Then the concrete pour was on with no mechanical help – just team grunt! The Rio Bar was installed and tied ready for the build. The concrete was left to set overnight to allow us to start bricklaying on Day 3.
Day 3: Taking Shape
Spirits definitely lifted on Day 3. You could feel the mood of the team was on the up as we started to see our home taking shape. But before the brickwork began, we had to screed the mortar mix from the original concrete, certainly a different way of doing things. This really opened our eyes to just how other countries and communities use their local resources to build homes.
Day 4: Work and Fun
Day 4 saw more bricklaying and more mixing mortar. The house really started to take shape this day as the walls went up. For time-out, we built a swing for the local kids. They absolutely loved it – and so did we!
Day 5: The Final Product!
Sadly, this was our last day on site of this all-too-short experience. We finished up with ever more brickwork and more mixing to get to the stage where we could hand over to the next team.
At the end of the day there were very emotional ceremonies at base camp. We presented Pajorno and his family with the keys to their new home, which would soon be completed by the next incoming team; one of many to help Habitat Indonesia complete another 50 homes in the village.
The outcomes and challenges for us:
- The weather was extremely hot and humid. This made work somewhat challenging, but mighty rewarding.
- In a testing and unfamiliar environment, Zero Harm was achieved which was a great result for the Boral team.
- We continually improved throughout the week coming up with new and better ways of doing things.
- The team was clearly committed from the beginning and worked really well together. It was a great example of team spirit and focus.
Apart from the build, we were all given ample downtime at the end of each day. This is where the teams got to bond with each other. With around 50 team members from around the world, we had plenty of new people to get to know. Some were from international companies, like us, and others were individuals, many returning as repeat volunteers.
Dinners were pre-arranged and every night we would sample a new restaurant. This was always a social highlight as it gave us a chance share stories and experiences… and as the hotel had a very welcome pool, an evening unwind with a couple of Bintangs was bliss!
A highlight, early in the trip, was a sunrise tour of Borobudur temple. This is acknowledged as one of the world’s most impressive Buddhist temples. Sitting on each level are 72 stupas (a Buddhist shrine), each containing a figure of Buddha just visible through the latticework. It’s as if each is strapped into his own private module and awaiting spiritual lift-off - an extraordinary spectacle that is, literally, the crowning glory of this significantly religious monument.
The week in Indonesia was one of the best weeks of my life. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of helping others less fortunate than yourself. The huge and genuine smiles we continually saw on the villagers faces will be something I hold close to my heart for a long time.
I would like to sincerely thank Boral and Midland Brick for this life-altering opportunity. Importantly, I have developed a much clearer understanding of the privileged life we have here in Australia, and at the same time gained an insight into people of other cultures.
I cannot recommend Rock the House enough. The bond and friendships you make for a lifetime is something you could never replace, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. I myself, along with several other team members have all committed to going back for Rock the House 2019, which I am really looking forward to.
Want to know more?
2019's “Rock the House” build is NOW OPEN for registrations and will take place in Cambodia. Rock the house will help Habitat for Humanity make a life changing impact in a community close to Siem Reap, Cambodia. This year, Rock the House IV will be building 8 homes for families living in substandard conditions.
For more information or to register, head to - https://habitat.org.au/volunteer/volunteer-overseas/rock-the-house-cambodia-2019/