Habitat Singapore welcomes our newest Ambassador to the family: Carla Dunareanu. The local actress, host and model officially joined us this year to complete our awesome trio of Ambassadors, together with Anita Kapoor and Paul Foster. We sat down with Carla to talk about how fate brought her to Habitat.
How did you find out about Habitat Singapore?
“In 2017, I did a travel show called “Special Delivery”... The first episode I did was to go to Thailand, Chiangmai. And it was to be involved with a non-profit called the Zy Movement Foundation, which basically helped (kids with) cerebral palsy kids and (other) disabilities to do this empowering trip... to different mountains within Thailand or around the world, and bring these kids along who probably wont have the opportunity and the means to summit a mountain."
"I went on the trip and I got so involved, and it just really impacted my life at that point in time. I’ve just been working in the media for so long that... everything you’re doing was really so satisfy your own needs and wants. But this was the first time I realised what I was doing was really impacting someone else. It was such a big shift for me that I started having this craving of doing things that were larger than me."
"I met this girl on the trip who was at that time, working for both Zy Movement Foundation and Habitat for Humanity Thailand. ... Fast forward to a year later, my friend Paul Foster is involved in Habitat Singapore sent me a message about joining the Ambassador team. I believe in things falling into place organically and naturally. And just the fact that Habitat was brought up at different times in my life by different people, I was like this is obviously a clear sign."
What was it about Habitat's work that resonated with you?
“I think what i really liked about Habitat was it’s no frills. The mission is very straight-forward, it’s to build houses for people. When we think about it, it’s such a common thing we take for granted. And I feel like (at) Habitat, you’re giving people a basic necessity. Everyone needs a roof over their head, everyone needs to feel safe at night with a door that locks, in a home that’s not going to be washed away. Things that we don’t even have to think about (because) we live in a HDB."
"And you guys get down, literally on your hands and knees, and you’re mixing cement and you’re laying bricks - it’s really laborious work. You’re at the forefront, you’re putting in the blood, sweat and tears to create something physical. You’re not building a hypothetical dream, you’re literally building a house with your hands. And I’m a very hands-on person and I think that’s what I needed. I needed to get behind a cause where my status as an artist or celebrity didn’t mean anything because I was going to be like everyone else. I’m going to pull my weight because that’s what I want."
So your first official act as Ambassador was to head straight into our local home-cleaning programme, Project HomeWorks. How was that experience for you?
“I was like we’re going to in, we’re going to sweep some floors, we’re going to dust some windows, maybe like tidy or Marie Kondo some stuff. And then we go in and it’s covered in powder and I’m like ‘Where are we! What is this place!’. It was very eye-opening, I think, to some situations that Singaporeans live in that we are just unaware of. And it was very humbling."
"We don’t get exposed to homeless people, poverty, it’s so well-hidden and sheltered that when you do see it, you kind of like ask ‘am I in Singapore?’. It was just very jarring because the estate looked like a normal HDB estate and you do down the corridor that’s a little bit normal but that’s normal - my grandma lives in woodlands, it’s an old estate - but then you get into the house and it’s just very out of this world. … It was a very good wake up call.”
So, final reflection: what does home mean to you?
“A home has always been the people that I love. ... But I think a house is something you build with your loved ones to provide you security and comfort and shelter, above all. A home should shield you from any threat.”
We hope reading Carla's story has inspired you to find a cause that you're passionate about supporting. This year alone, Carla is committed to going on 3 Global Village builds with our volunteers. She will be joining Anita Kapoor on our Women's Build to Batam in March, leading a team to Chiangmai in May and leading another team with Paul Foster for our Ambassadors' Build to Nepal in November. If you'd like to support her Chiangmai campaign or sign up for any of the builds, visit her campaign page or write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org