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  • Faith Jacobs, Resource Development Intern

Healthy Home, Healthy Life: Mr Bahtarim

Mr Bahtarim, together with his wife and 3-year-old son, in front of their completed Habitat house (April 2018)

If the home is a building block for a better life, Mr Bahtarim’s family have built a home beyond their dreams and climbed several rungs up the ladder towards securing a more stable, healthier future.

Back in August 2017 when a team of Singapore volunteers first met Mr Bahtarim in Batam, the site where his future house stood was a typical construction site. A tarp hung above the work site as a temporary roof, the ground still needed to be levelled before concrete floors could be laid and reinforcement bars marked out where walls were going up.

Construction site for Mr Bahtarim's house in Kabil Village, Batam (Aug 2017)

Together with the volunteer team and local construction crew, Mr Bahtarim put in hours of his own labour to construct his new Habitat house. After the basic structure was completed, Mr Bahtarim and his 22-year-old eldest son, Riski, continued working hard to improve their house.

Mr Bahtarim, pictured in blue, working on building his house alongside Singapore volunteers (Aug 2017)

Improving their living situation was not just for comfort but to shelter the family from the elements and protect against illnesses, especially for Ali, their three-year-old son with special needs.

In their old house, a leaky roof meant sleepless nights for the family, especially during monsoon season. Plywood walls were cracked in almost every part of the house and without proper ventilation, the air was always stuffy and congested.

The old family house before it was torn down for construction (2017)

“Our house was so uncomfortable even for us, I felt really bad for my son. The fact that he is a special needs child helps me to keep telling myself that I need to do something to improve our house.” Mr Bahtarim’s declining health and meagre earnings as a lifter made him worry and found it difficult in planning for future improvement. It was just enough to cover monthly expenses and barely enough for any savings.

“Ali would whine and cry he had no freedom to play, he used to sneak his way out of the house and play in the road because his movements were limited in the house,” he added.

Combining their earnings, Mr Bahtarim and Riski saved up enough to add personalized finishing touches like bright blue paint on the walls and vinyl floor covering. A bigger, more spacious front yard also gave Ali a bigger and safer play area in his own home.

Today, they stand proudly in front of their new forever home, feeling extremely blessed and grateful.

Complete Habitat house before final touches (Jan 2018)

Living room of their house after all the finishing touches (April 2018)


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