Claire Benson with her adopted children Hilina and Matewos and volunteers from Habitat For Humanity Northern Rivers, who are doing a makeover on Claire’s house.
Claire Benson with her adopted children Hilina and Matewos and volunteers from Habitat For Humanity Northern Rivers, who are doing a makeover on Claire’s house.

Building a better humanity

Habitat For Humanity is a Christian-based organisation that has built nearly 300,000 houses around the world in the 30 years they have been operating. That means 1.5 million people in 3,000 communities have access to affordable shelter because of their work.

Last Saturday the Northern Rivers chapter of the organisation began working on its first project; a house makeover for Goonellabah resident Claire Benson and her two adopted children Hilina and Matewos.

About a dozen Habitat For Humanity volunteers and local tradies are donating their time and skills to get the work done that Claire wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

“It’s just such a blessing,” she said.

Claire is on a disability pension and had been quoted about $10,000 to have the work done which includes putting in a new kitchen floor to replace the 60-year-old lino, as well as new kitchen bench tops, new guttering and down pipes, and a fresh coat of paint for the exterior of the house.

According to project manager Baden Colliss, Claire will be charged a fraction of the quoted price and the money will go towards future Habitat For Humanity Northern Rivers projects.

“We didn’t have the skills bases or resources to build a new house, so we’re starting small with a renovation,” he said.

Claire was approached by her friend Robyn Colliss after church one day about being involved with the first Northern Rivers project.

Co-ordinator of Habitat For Humanity Northern Rivers, Mark Heilbron, said they were hoping to do several other projects in the Kyogle region this year.

Much of the organisation’s work is temporary housing after natural disasters, but they have built about 80 homes for low income families in Australia who meet their criteria and are able to put 500 hours of labour into the building process.


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