Volunteers From Prudential Real Estate Investors Build In Chiang Mai
HFH Japan marked its very first corporate Global Village build recently in Thailand. A 17-member team, comprising mostly staff from US-headquartered Prudential Real Estate Investors (PREI), built with Habitat in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. The volunteers from PREI's Japan and Singapore offices were going to a company retreat in the city and arrived earlier in order to build.
Most of the volunteers came from PREI's offices in Japan and Singapore and were joined by their corporate contacts from Thailand, Singapore and Japan.
Ahead of the team's arrival, local skilled workers had prepared and had nearly completed the foundation of the house. This made it possible for the team to complete the house by the end of the three-day build. Among the tasks which the volunteers did were mixing cement, laying brick walls, and digging the hole for the septic tank.
The home partner Wandee Sangpayoong and her family were used to cramped conditions in their small window-less house in Namprae village, Hangdong district. The house's wooden walls were rotting and in danger of falling apart. Her 29-year-old son Noppond had to sleep in the living room while daughter Wanwisa, 18, resorted to staying the night at her aunt's place every day. Wandee's dream was to build a new, bigger house but she could not due to their limited finances. The 7,500-baht (US$244) combined income of Wandee, a housekeeper and her husband Somnuek, a carpenter, was just about enough to cover their children's educational expenses.
With support from the PREI team, Wandee and her family's wish for a new home could be fulfilled. The family contributed labor toward their own home with the father, Somnuek, working with the volunteers every day. His kind nature and ready smile won him many friends, among whom were the local carpenters from the community, who joined in the build.
For the volunteers, working on a Habitat build brought various benefits. Koki Fukui, assistant asset manager at PREI (Japan), said: "I really enjoyed working with Habitat staff and local people who supported our team. I'm back to my normal life completely now, but that experience will forever be remembered." His colleague Kana Takei appreciated the opportunity to get to know the other team members better, especially as she had not spent much time with her colleagues from the Singapore office prior to the build. Team leader Adrian Chua said: "Everyone enjoyed it and more importantly, found it very fulfilling."
Wandee and her family have hopes of Wanwisa attending university after completing her high school education. While that would mean greater expenses, Wandee can have greater peace of mind now that her family has a safe and decent home, thanks to the support from Habitat's supporters such as PREI.
Prudential Real Estate Investors (PREI) is the real estate investment management business of Prudential Financial, Inc, of the USA. PREI, headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, is supported by a network of local offices throughout the world. As of June 30, 2008, PREI managed US$47.4 billion of gross assets on behalf of more than 400 clients in United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. PREI has operated in Asia since 1994, with offices in Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and India.