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  • Habitat for Humanity Singapore

Supporter Spotlight: Barbara Yam

More than anyone, our HopeBuilder Barbara understands the value of having a safe and decent home. There was a time in her life where family disputes saw her living outside of her family’s house in a rented place. Describing those days as a “period of uncertainty”, Barbara shared how her life turned for the better once her own housing situation was stabilised:

“Contrast it with many years later when we finally settled down - my work and study performances soared. Hence, I deduce that having a safe place to live makes a great difference to one's mental and emotional well-being.”

Barbara’s experience bears testimony to what studies have discovered about housing – that it is the foundation where all aspects of life converge, and when it falls apart, quality of life is often impacted.

A study on Mindful Sheltering by Oxford Brookes University and CARE International, which Habitat for Humanity International participated in, highlighted that the perceived lack of safety & vulnerability within the living environment can create emotional stress. Further, researchers have found that creating a home provides homeowners with a sense of identity and belonging to the larger community. When one feels lousy about their own home, they tend to lose an outlet for self-expression, healthy routines, and feel a sense of shame. This affects one’s overall motivation & performance in life too.

Experiencing this firsthand was why the Habitat cause struck a deep chord within Barbara. It led her to participate in a Cambodia Build in 2019, which she described as a “little daunting” at first, but eventually turned out to be a “particularly humbling experience” because the homeowners taught them “so much more about how one can be content even with so little, and how having a simple house could potentially change [their] lives around”.

“One example was how it poured on the first and last day of the build. On the first day, the moment it started pouring heavily, we had to wait under the makeshift shelter. […] Contrast that with the last day, when it started raining, all 20+ of us could take refuge in the house we built. […] The grateful looks on the villagers' faces were priceless.”

Equally humbling was her volunteering experience with Project HomeWorks, where she saw how helping homeowners declutter and giving new life to their lodging could possibly turn their lives around.

“It is a very small effort on my part as a volunteer but may potentially make a big impact on the beneficiaries' lives. It also serves as a constant reminder to me to stay grounded and to appreciate the people and things I have in my life.”

Presently, Barbara chooses to give back as one of our regular givers, also known as our HopeBuilders. She describes her regular giving as her way to show gratitude for overcoming the tough season in her life when decent housing was unavailable.

Regular contributions such as Barbara's really help to power the work we do. You can join Barbara in making an impact by becoming our HopeBuilder too – sign up here! For further reading, you can find the Mindful Sheltering study here.


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