"This new house is my new life," said 80-year-old Mr Jun Saengmanee.
Stability is something Mr Jun and his family had been missing in their lives for years. After slowly losing family member one by one over the years, Mr Jun has spent the last 10 years living with and being cared for by Orapin, his 37-year-old grand-daughter who suffers from Lupus (an autoimmune disease that attack healthy tissue in the body), and 15-year-old great-grandson.
They've stayed together in their family home in Chiangmai, a wooden stilt house with only 1 bedroom and a leaky roof. The foundation, walls and floor had been badly decayed by termites over the last 30 years and they lived in anxiety with every storm. Despite her physical limitations, Orapin still manages to earn 4,000 Thai baht (less than S$200) by selling popcorn at the community market to support the family.
But in between medications, food and other basic necessities, Mr Jun and Orapin did not have enough to put back into repairing and renovating their home. As it is, Orapin's son already had to drop out of formal education and studies at a community education center.
Getting accepted as a Habitat Thailand homeowner was a godsend, as Mr Jun knew they would never have been able to afford a safer home on their own.
In May this year, a volunteer team led by Habitat Singapore's very own Ambassador Carla Dunareanu arrived at the build site to turn Mr Jun's dreams of a new home into a reality. The team of 12 spent 2 full days hand-mixing cement, tying reinforcement bars and laying bricks to build the walls of the house.
A few weeks later, Mr Jun's new Habitat house was ready for the family to finally move into.
"It is more convenient and better as I do not have to walk up and down the stairs anymore. There is a spacious area in the big living room which we can use this space for many activities. I can feel safe staying in this house because it has a door lock and a strong structure. Also, we can have our own bedroom for more privacy. In the raining season, we can sleep well as we don’t have to worry about the leaky roof," said Mr Jun.
He added: "Thank you (to) all volunteers for helping us building this house for my family. I feel very happy to have a new house which is stronger and safer than my old one. I will always remember you and hope to see you again."