At Habitat Japan, many requests for cleaning and tidying support come from the elderly and those with disabilities. More than half of these requests come from the elderly, while about a third are from individuals with disabilities. Many of those with mental illnesses are under the age of 65, experiencing symptoms at various stages of their lives, often beginning with depression and leading to a loss of motivation or ability to keep tidy and car e for oneself. PHW not only offers cleaning and tidying support, but also offers an opportunity for home partners to rebuild connections with their local communities through interactions with volunteers.

One of our home partners, Nogi-san (pseudonym, 30s), sought assistance earlier this year and finished receiving support from Habitat in July. When Habitat staff first visited their home for an inspection, the hallway connecting the entrance to their room was overflowing and belongings covered the entire floor. Clothes and bags were piled high on shelves and sofas making it hard for Nogi-san to know where to even start on their own. They hesitated to have volunteers visit their home, ashamed that others might see the condition of their room. However, wanting to change, they made the decision to accept support from Habitat in cleaning and tidying their space.

On the day of cleaning support, three volunteers and a Habitat staff member visited Nogi-san’s home. They began by securing a clear pathway from the entrance to Nogi-san’s room. Inside the room, there was a jumble of items like disposable chopsticks, tissues, plastic bags, and clothes. which volunteers sorted into bags and boxes. Nogi-san had initial concerns about people entering their home, but on the day of the visit, they were friendly and actively engaged with the whole team. Nogi-san even let the group play pop music while working and shared stories about how they used to run marathons, creating a cheerful atmosphere during the cleaning session.

Nogi-san collaborated with volunteers to complete a total of five cleaning support sessions. As the sessions progressed, Nogi-san witnessed the transformation of their living environment, rekindling their motivation to keep tidy. Through each session, Nogi-san actively participated alongside the volunteers, helping fill and collect bags of garbage. After each cleaning session, Nogi-san expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers as they bid them farewell.

On the final day of volunteering, Nogi-san expressed their gratitude, saying: "Every time, the volunteers tried their best and helped me clean. It made me so happy. With my home a bit tidier, I can think about the future with a clear mind. You know, I used to love going to new places and interacting with locals.” Nogi-san surprised us and told us they decided try a live-in short-term job in a rural area starting the next month. We were happy to know that cleaning support not only improved Nogi-san’s living environment but also motivated them to take on new challenges in life.  With the continuing support of our volunteers, Habitat is committed to helping people like Nogi-san achieve independence through cleaning and tidying support.