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The Admirals at the Helm

 

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things,” and this is most evident in those who selflessly answer the call to serve with no personal gain as an incentive. This is especially true in the case of the individuals that have served Habitat for Humanity® Trinidad & Tobago as Chairman of the National Board of Directors.

 

From the conception stage and through its embryonic period Clive Pantin assumed the role of Chairman of the National Committee from 1995 to 1997. During this period he skillfully and lovingly cleared the path by inviting the Area Director for the Latin American & Caribbean of Habitat for Humanity, Steve Mickler, to Trinidad to assess our worthiness and start the process of establishing an affiliate organization.

 

Habitat for Humanity® Trinidad & Tobago was registered in 1997 and there was a handover of the National Committee to a formal Board of Directors. This warranted a Chairman to be elected and Pantin handed the reins to Francis O’Neal (at left, in this photo with classmates from Fatima College Class of 1975), whose expertise lay in the fields of Information Technology and Civil Engineering.  His focus was largely centred on the building of the Habitat for Humanity® brand and sowing the seeds of faith, mission and mandate. He had the challenging task of staffing the organization and institutionalizing the many policies and structure requirements.

 

 

After Habitat had been properly formalized the baton of the chairmanship was passed on to the very capable hands of Mitra Attai whose forté lay in the field of Finance and Accounting. During his tenure, the local organization solidified its position as an NGO by the strengthening of the institution through greater staff and volunteer development; affiliate development and fundraising at the affiliate level. Given his background, he actively sought financial transparency and soon enlisted the services of the accounting firm of KPMG as Habitat’s external auditors and implemented the international Sun Accounting System Software to facilitate our internal accounts. He also intently pursued the then President of the Republic, His Excellency, Arthur N. Robinson, to act as patron of Habitat for Humanity® Trinidad & Tobago. Attai also led the expansion of the building of houses and the formation of national partners. At an international level, he presided over the country’s first Youth Build, held here in Trinidad in 2000 and attended by representatives from 13 countries, including the Latin American and Caribbean region and a contingent from the USA.

 

Mr Attai gave way to Chanka Seeterram in late 2000, another finance specialist and the longest-serving Board member in Habitat Trinidad- Tobago’s short existence. Seeteram’s tenure was largely characterized by the drive to become self-sustaining and widen the involvement of our volunteer base to engage as much of the corporate citizens of our island as its private citizens. He typified the diligence of the organization by steadfastly promoting its mission at every opportunity and headed the World Leaders Build in 2001 in Trinidad, attended by several key figures in the political landscape of the country, as well as the management of our multinational and local businesses. He instilled an aggressive determination to improve our efficiency in our core competency of construction and expand the scope of our services to assist more individuals.

 

Current Chairman Derwin Howell is a respected Caribbean financier and brings to Habitat Trinidad-Tobago a passion for good governance and donor engagement.  Under his leadership, We have been able to expand and deepen our relationshi^s with major donors, while increasing public interest and financial contributions from individuals and small & medium enterprises.

Wherever we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we know that “True Trinis” will be thinking of their loved ones and the neighbourhoods where we grew up back home. As you gather with your family and friends in “foreign” to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are asking you, as a family, to help other families build safe and affordable homes in T and T.If you are proud to be a Trini and wish to support our efforts, please make a contribution to our mission. We encourage you to visit our website at www.habitat-tt.org/donate-now to learn more about Habitat and make your secured online contributions. You also have the opportunity to follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/HabitatTNTor on twitter @habitatTNT.
In true Trini style, please let us spread the word and tell all your family and friends about Habitat Trinidad and Tobago. We look forward to having you join us in T&T to help build a house for a family in need.

This time of year, there is comfort in knowing that you’ll have a safe and healthy home to celebrate the holidays. Your gift today can begin to make that possible for your friends, and neighbours back home.

Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To ensure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the nonprofit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

 

I. To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.

II. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.

III. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.

IV. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

V. To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.

VI. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.

VII. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.

VIII. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.

IX. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.

X. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive a prompt, truthful and forthright answer.

Habitat Trinidad and Tobago is pleased to share our latest Annual Report with you. Download from here or view online when you click the cover photo.

Featured articles:

  • National Lotteries Control Board supports Pearl in her dream for a home of her own
  • Preventing landslides in Tobago
  • Celebrating 20 years of national service

If you have any questions or comments, please share them with contactus@habitat-tt.org

Habitat for Humanity® Trinidad and Tobago (Habitat Trinidad-Tobago) is a non-profit, non-governmental housing organisation, working in Trinidad and Tobago since 1997. We build and renovate safe decent and affordable homes in partnership with families whose household income is so low that they cannot qualify for commercial loans or benefit from the facilities of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) or Trinidad Mortgage Finance Company (TTMF). We also assist communities with the skills necessary to become successful homeowners. With an estimated 250,000 families living in informal and inadequate housing in Trinidad and Tobago[1], it could take up to 30 years to alleviate the current need for affordable shelter.  Habitat Trinidad and Tobago actively brings government, private sector and other stakeholders together to change the legislation, systems and policies that currently make affordable housing a reality only for a privileged few.

 

Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent, affordable place to live. People in your community, and all over the world, partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With our help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.

 

All Habitat Trinidad and Tobago Homeowners agree to pay an affordable mortgage, formalized by a signed, legal loan agreement. We also provide alternative shelter solutions for potential Homeowners depending on the need and the land tenure circumstances of the families – materials-only, repairs, renovations, technical services and other micro-finance products.   Construction and materials funding is raised through corporate and individual donations, and in all cases, each family pays a small amount over the course of the 3- to 30-year mortgage period.

[1]IADB and Ministry of Housing & Urban Development, Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, 2015

 

Habitat for Humanity International has helped more than 4 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976, and supports a variety of funding models that enable families with limited resources to make needed improvements on their homes as their time and resources allow. Here in  Trinidad and Tobago, we have provided 602 shelter solutions, served more than 2500 families and thousands of individuals through housing initiatives, financial, technical and life skills training, and disaster risk reduction programmes (June 2017). You can learn more about our work here!

 

Habitat for Humanity® Trinidad and Tobago advocates for the most vulnerable members of our society, focussing on the impact of safe, decent, affordable shelter on building strength, stability and self-reliance in our communities.  Our shelter programmes and complementary initiatives bring together volunteers, donors and technical expertise from around the world to:

  • Highlight the issues of housing access and the effects on vulnerable persons to the national audience.
  • Reflect on the cause of adequate and affordable shelter and share ideas on how we in Trinidad and Tobago can make this a topic of national action.
  • Help promote food security among Habitat Home Owners
  • Raise funds for a variety of housing solutions, including new homes, repairs and renovations or materials only projects.
  • Participate in construction and painting projects benefiting families throughout the country.

In addition to building and or renovating homes, we contribute to community development through individual capacity-building projects – financial literacy, construction skills training, disaster mitigation and disaster risk reduction initiatives.

 

We serve families whose combined monthly income does not exceed TT$8,000. Essentially, we can help persons who are not likely to qualify for loans from commercial lending institutions, whether due to advanced age or low-income levels.  Our house costs are comparatively low because of our highly subsidized operations and substantial volunteer labour input.  We provide non-profit loans, and our loan repayment can spread over 30 years, so the Home Owner can pay an average of TT$600 monthly on a loan of TT$150,000.

The 18th Annual General Meeting of Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago took place on October 12, 2017 at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business. The following is the Chairman’s Speech, delivered by Derwin Howell.

 

This year Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago celebrated its twentieth anniversary and getting there was no easy feat. This journey involved five (5) chairpersons, two (2) former Presidents of this great Republic, and several other hard working and distinguished men and women leading the charge to this point in our history.

 

Over the years, we have accomplished a lot through the kindness of many generous donors, both individual and corporate. Our donor engagements were never merely a signed cheque or photo opportunity. Rather, we have had the distinct pleasure of donor contributions spanning cash, equipment, building materials and services ranging from professional expertise to manual labour on site.  One early example was our former Patron, Sir Ellis Clarke, inviting his personal friends to share a glass of wine at his home, for the express purpose of convincing them to join him in serving the Habitat for Humanity mission.

 

On March 14th, 2017, we raised the symbolic flag of twenty (20) years of service, with many accomplishments under our belt, including the achievement of our 500th housing solution. We celebrated the incorporation of Tobago into our mission and are proud to say that we are currently serving our 17th Tobagonian family with direct housing support services.  As well, 120 persons have accessed our training and we have recently assisted the Moriah Village Council in the refurbishment of its community centre.

At this our 18th Annual General Meeting in our 20th year of operation, we now herald an even great opportunity for persons to become members of Habitat for Humanity through a membership drive soon to be launched. This will extend the opportunity to the wider public to join heart and minds to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

We implore you to spread the word on the work that we are doing, brick by brick, house by house, community by community and partner by partner, to provide the opportunity of hope where people are living in hopelessness. Help us to promote the cause of defending the defenceless and homeless. Support us to ensure our societies in this twin-island republic reduce crime by ensuring more decent neighbourhoods, working and dwelling in harmony and helping each other, as we have done over the last twenty (20) years.

 

As we begin our next twenty (20) years, we must heighten our advocacy for national policies to secure land and housing opportunities for the less fortunate. Not by giving away but by instilling that through hard work (sweat equity) and repayment of an interest-free mortgage, the opportunity of home ownership is possible.

 

It took us twenty (20) years of fund- and friend-raising to meet the 500th housing solution mark, but it is our desire to build a legacy where the next twenty (20) years sees 5,000 plus persons being served with access to shelter opportunities. Our soon to be launched membership drive is designed to expand our reach and impact to help us achieve this goal.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, as the current serving board, we stand in solidarity with you in this worthy cause.  Ours remain the task to ensure good governance and accountability, to increase our shelter solutions and, despite the prevailing economic situation, to ensure that we remain sustainable and resilient. God is on our side and so are you.  It gives me the greatest pleasure on behalf of the Board of Directors, the Management and Staff and all the beneficiaries of our services, to express our gratitude for your support over the years and to salute you for your partnership.

 

Thank You!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  …Margaret Mead

 

The Board of Directors: br, l-r Geoffrey Abdulah, Prem Persad Maharaj, Derwin Howell (Chairman), Winston Siriram, Stephan Sheppard. fr, l-r Barbara Lodge-Johnson, Nichola Armstrong, Jennifer Massiah (National Director), Trudie Telseford-Pierre, Karen Johnstone.

 

Help rebuild the Caribbean after Hurricane Season 2017!

We are activating our appeal for donations towards the rebuilding of the Caribbean.
Online: www.habitat-tt.org/donate-now and RBL Account# 180482534101

Your donations will be directed to purchase transitional shelter products like tarpaulins, plywood, hammers, nails etc.

We may also be asked to assist in the physical reconstruction of transitional or permanent shelters.

Our online donation page makes it easy to support our work and homeowners like Avalon and Nayla.

 

They built their home in South Trinidad with the help of local and international volunteers; the financial contributions from individuals and companies provided the seed money for the construction process.  The family paid back the cost of the home by small monthly instalments and they are now happy with their two children in their own home!

 

Please give generously!  www.habitat-tt.org/donate-now

Over the last several days, Hurricane Irma and associated rainfall have caused unprecedented severe flooding and wind damage in several Caribbean islands, forcing emergency evacuations and damaging many homes in communities we serve.

Sadly, this is not the first time that CARICOM has faced this kind of disaster, and we as a regional community are reacting!

FAMILIES NEED YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER NOW.

www.habitat-tt.org/donate-now is our online donation page.  

Give today and your donation will be dedicated to our efforts in the affected islands. Please don’t wait — help us turn this setback into a step forward for families in need with your generous gift.

 

Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago has responded to natural disasters here and abroad for over 20 years, working in close partnership with families and local organizations during what is often the most difficult time in their lives.

YOUR SUPPORT TODAY will help with what will undoubtedly be a long-term recovery, and unfortunately, the emergency phase is just one of many that these families have to withstand. Stand with us and help these families through a long recovery. With your help, we will rebuild countless communities.

These families are counting on us. Please, make a generous donation today and help these families receive the decent and stable shelter they need.

Thank you for your continued support of Habitat Trinidad & Tobago and the people affected by Caribbean hurricanes.

 

If you wish to help with materials or professional services to support the relief and recovery efforts, please contact the National Director at 674-2031 or 742-4663 or email us at contactus@habitat-tt.org

 

Habitat Trinidad-Tobago shall make every effort to use funds as designated; nevertheless, under the direction of the Board of Directors, Habitat Trinidad and Tobago retains complete control over the use and distribution of donated funds in furtherance of its mission.

What a wonderful day!   Dozens of women descended on Sangre Grande on October 28th to paint Kathy’s home!   You can see the first photos here on our Facebook Page, but here’s a teaser…..

 

When WOMEN support each other INCREDIBLE THINGS happen!

 

The High Commissioner took a break to update Kathy and her husband Ellery on the day’s progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BACKGROUND

 

Women Build 2017 will help our future Homeowner, Kathy, provide a safe, stable and familiar environment for her family to live independently and in security.  Led by Her Excellency, Mrs. Carla Hogan Rufelds, High Commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago, prominent and influential women leaders from every sector will come together on several work days throughout the entire month of October, with the intention of handing over the keys to a finished home for Kathy.  With the help of the diplomatic corps, business, government, academia, the arts and civil society, Kathy and her husband will soon move into a safe, decent and stable home.  Habitat Trinidad and Tobago is encouraging women leaders to join hearts and hands to make a difference and transmit a positive message of hope and empowerment to the most vulnerable in our society. We hope that our women leaders will add their bit as we transform society through partnerships and solidarity.

 

Please register for the Women Build here

Please download the Habitat Trinidad-Tobago Volunteer Handbook – Women Build 2017

Read More

What inspired us, even in the rough times? Our children and our dreams for giving them a great life!

 

We live in Rio Claro in south Trinidad, and we heard about Habitat at a community meeting about 14 years ago.  We have two children now – our daughter was just five at the time we applied, now 19 and our “lagniappe” our son, who is 13 years old now.  We loved the fact that it provides affordable housing.  The banking system didn’t really work for us as a young family now starting out, but the Habitat formula gave us a chance to stand on our feet and get away from renting.

We broke ground and built in 3 months, within budget, and I am not a contractor by trade.  I am handy with my hands, and I was able to find ways to make the process work.  I made an arrangement to act as the site supervisor for my home, eliminating the technical charges and committing to managing the construction budget myself.  That way, our overall costs came down and I was able to put my sweat equity hours to good use, managing the construction of my home and learning useful skills at the same time.

When the Global Village (foreign volunteer) teams came to Trinidad, I would use three or four persons on my project, freeing up the rest of the group to focus on other Habitat homes in the Rio Claro area.  I had a great experience working with the foreign teams; they work very, VERY hard, so I took full advantage of the blessing.

We had some rough times over the years, but we committed to paying off.  Habitat was very understanding, and this made it easier in a way to meet our obligations to Habitat.  Nayla especially pushed that we always pay, because we knew that the money was going to help other families to see their way.

Don’t listen to the second-hand news on the block; take the time to come to Habitat, and take the time to understand exactly what Habitat does, and how YOUR effort is multiplied by working within the Habitat process.

A home is safety, and security, but more than that, it’s the love!

 

 

From the Fuller Center for Housing, we feature a letter written by Habitat Founder and former Chairman Millard Fuller, explaining the thinking behind the “theology of the hammer”. To download the original document, please click here.

May 2008

I am often asked about the “theology of the hammer” and the “economics of Jesus.” Where did these terms come from?

The genesis was back in 1965 when I first met Clarence Jordan, the founder of Koinonia Farm. He quickly became my spiritual mentor. Clarence had the most profound insights into the Bible of any person I had ever known, or have known since. And, it is from the
Bible that all the concepts came for both the “theology of the hammer” and the “economics of Jesus.”

 

I have worked on these concepts since I first met Clarence Jordan in 1965 and especially since the first house was built at Koinonia in 1969 as part of the Partnership Housing program there (the forerunner of Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing). I talked extensively about both the “theology of the hammer” and the “economics of Jesus” in a lecture series at the Chautauqua Institute in 1987. I articulated in detail the timeless ideas and concepts at that time, all which are deeply rooted in God’s word. And, all of which are so relevant and incredibly important in today’s world, and are central to our work.

 

Simply stated, the “theology of the hammer” is the understanding that our Christian faith mandates that we do more than just talk about faith and sing about love. We must put faith and love into action to make them real, to make them come alive for people. Faith must be incarnated; that is to say, it must become more than a verbal proclamation or an intellectual assent. True faith must be acted out.

 

The Theology of The Hammer means that we work hard until a house for a needy family is built or renovated. It means continuing to love and having concern that is shown to the family to ensure success as a new homeowner.

 

This theology is also about bringing a wide diversity of people, churches, schools, businesses and other organizations together to build and renovate houses and establish viable, dynamic communities. It acknowledges that our political, philosophical and theological differences exist, but we can all find common ground using the hammer as an instrument of God’s Love.

 

The biblical economic lessons that we call “The Economics of Jesus” teach us that we can all agree on the following:

1. Building and renovating simple decent, affordable houses with and for people in need is right and central to proclaiming God’s love.
2. Utilizing principles that are found deeply rooted in many religious traditions of the world:

  • Not making a profit off the poor
  • Not charging interest to the poor (Exodus 22:25)
  • Taking what limited resources are available, asking God to bless them, then going to work, proceeding with the knowledge that God’s love extends to everyone, with a preferential concern for the poor, the broken and the stranger.
  • The opportunity for service and divestment of wealth is a blessing to people in need and to the giver.

Since I first published The Theology of The Hammer in 1994, an increased awareness of our responsibilities to the planet, the rapidly increasing costs of energy and changes to the climate have made it even more important to promote the use of appropriate technology
when building and renovating houses. The plight of the creation which God loves so much requires us to change our thinking and acting!

 

We encourage thinking and acting “green.” We promote the use of environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient building methods when building and renovating houses. We want our homeowners to benefit from energy-efficiency strategies that will lower the need for fossil fuel consumption and help save on energy bills, and we want to build in ways that are respectful of the earth and its resources.

 

Both the “theology of the hammer” and “economics of Jesus” call for action! So, it is time to get moving. Start your first project. Get a lot and build a new house or renovate a house for someone who desperately needs your help. Tell them God loves them and so do you.

 

In joyous Christian partnership and friendship,
Millard Fuller

 

Supported by a 21-member team with diverse skills, backgrounds and experiences, we give thanks for the many blessings we have received in the last 20 years of providing Service and building Strength, Stability and Self-reliance through Shelter.  We also pay tribute to our volunteers, the life-blood of the nonprofit world – whether in advocacy, community outreach, global village and local construction, or resource development and event management, we drew on the talents and enthusiastic teamwork of hundreds of local, regional and international supporters, every helping hand contributing to building more than 500 shelters since 1997.

 

In Trinidad and Tobago, one in 5 families struggles daily to meet the costs of health care, adequate nutrition and affordable housing.  If we are to really make an impact in this area, every one of us must begin to speak out and act on shelter issues at the global and national level. Why? Simply because a decent and affordable place to live remains a basic human right, and everyone can do something today to help make this a possibility for Trinbagonian families.

 

The need for decent housing has a direct link to the quality of life that is enjoyed by each individual, and to a great extent determines the values upon which each community is built.  The improvement of each of these communities is a prerequisite for the full satisfaction of basic needs, such as employment, health services, education, recreation and even more pressing in our context, the general security of our neighbourhoods. Safe shelter means new homes, smaller home improvements, and security of tenure.  This speaks directly to the security of living safely in one’s home – free of fear from evictions, unsafe structures, leaking roofs, and unsanitary plumbing to name a few of the ills that plague those living in need.

 

Every home improvement, every donation, every voice, every dollar, every volunteer hour, positions a family to help themselves, and provides a ‘hand-up’ experience. With contributions from you, our ardent supporters, we know that together, we can, and will, build a brighter future – for another child, another family, another community, until all are served with simple, decent, affordable shelter opportunities.

#smallchangeBIGDIFFERENCE

Trinidad & Tobago 1-cent coins will be withdrawn from circulation soon!  Why not send us your coin collection, and let your small change make a big difference in the lives of homeowners throughout our country?

We have buckets that can be used for small outlets, but individuals may opt to bring in whatever bags and boxes they have on hand to our offices or their company’s HR/Marketing/CSR departments, and we will make arrangements to handover the coins.

To learn more, please contactus@habitat-tt.org or 702-4663

 

 

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live. Help us!