Habitat for Humanity Sophia
- Club & Circles
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Sophia volunteers to build secure homes and support living for people in need. Their main volunteer projects are Global Village (volunteer project overseas), Tohoku Trip and Kumamoto Trip. Sona Shimazaki, the leader of HFH Sophia responded to our interview.
——Q1 Please tell us the history of HFH Sophia, why and how the organization was formed.
HFH Sophia is a Campus Chapter of international NGO Habitat For Humanity Japan. It was formed in Sophia in the year 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake, in hopes for more University students from Sophia to participate in volunteer activities.
——Q2 What are your mission and usual activities (before COVID)?
Our mission is “Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope”.
With this mission in mind, we mainly had 3 big events before COVID. Global Village(GV), Tohoku Trip, and Kumamoto Trip.
GV is the main activity that we do. Habitat’s Global Village program gives international volunteers the opportunity to take part in the “hands on” construction or renovation of homes in more than 40 countries around the world, mainly in the East Asian countries. Before COVID, we took a trip to Cambodia to build houses with the owners. We also had cultural tour around Cambodia with support from the tour guide. In habitat for humanity, we choose which global village project to go to. There are projects in other areas too, such as Philippines and Poland.
For our Tohoku, and Kumamoto trip, we partner up with the local volunteers and take part in any activities we can do. We usually take a tour around the areas that were greatly affected by the earthquakes, and talk to the people who were affected. At Tohoku we cut down the bamboo, making miso, seaweed harvesting, and minyo social events. At we build playground in the forest as well as 子ども食堂 for the children living in the area.
We also have PHW(Project Home Works)which is hosted by the HFH office. This is a monthly activity in collaboration with CC members from all around the East Japan helps to “protect existing homes”, We help with cleaning, repair, and bedding replacement for home partners who need to improve their living.
——Q3 What are your current activities (any activities you worked on this year)? Do you feel that you were able to change people and society through your activities?
Unfortunately we were not able to do much activities this year, we put efforts in to addressing the HFH’s mission, and bringing awareness to the social problems that are affecting people’s living. We hosted fundraising events, seminar, and created goods.
For our fundraising events we held a raffle. We were able to have about 150 people participating in our events, and were able to spread awareness on some of the works that we do. We were also able to raise over one thousand yen throughout this event.
For seminar we had about two members talk about the social issues of homelessness in our weekly MTG. The members would choose any topic of their choice that are related to the SDGs and educate us on the problems that the other members may not be aware of. Starting fall semester we are hoping to invite any activists or an influencer to hold a seminar relating to the topic they are professional in.
I think it is very difficult for us in this COVID situation to have hands-on experience in volunteer activities, but we are doing our best through our MTGs and our SNS to learn about the social problems, and keeping an eye out for any activities we want to take part in after COVID.
——Q4 Are there any difficulties when working on events and other volunteer activities?
Yes, there are many ossicles when hosting an event or volunteering. When hosting events, it can be hard to plan, promote, and manage the members and the participants. During volunteer activities, I try to keep in mind that some people are still in the healing process and does not feel comfortable seeing volunteers. Sometimes, the actions that we take that we think we are doing for the better can end up being a problem. However, we believe that even only listening to experiences and feelings of Tohoku and Kumamoto people helps in connecting these important memories and knowledges to next generations.
——Q5 Are there any SDGs you are aiming for and why? (OR what do you think of SDGs? Do you think your activities are related to some SDGs?)
As HFH our vision is “A world where everyone has a decent place to live” our main aim is “sustainable cities and communities”(11) but we also take part in “Clean water and sanitation”(6), “no poverty”(1), “Partnership for the goals”(17) and so many more.
——Q6 Please give message to our readers!
Volunteering can seem like a hard action to take, but I believe that educating ourselves, and learning about social problems and taking small actions can make an impact in the end. In our Circle, we prioritize learning activities and hands-on volunteers to have a deeper understanding of why we volunteer. If you are interested in Volunteering please check out our instagram, and feel free to join our weekly MTG!