Search for budding builders

16:00, Mar 27 2014
Habitat for Humanity
BUILDING COMMUNITIES: Habitat for Humanity builds simple two bedroom houses with Fijian families.

It won't be a typical tropical beach holiday but Suanna Smith is hoping you'll go with her anyway.

The Glen Eden resident was quick to jump at the idea of celebrating her 30th birthday in Fiji.

But she decided to forgo the tanning and margaritas and do something generous with her time instead.

Habitat for humanity
Habitat for Humanity builds simple two bedroom houses with Fijian families.

She's gathering a team of 10 to 15 to help her build a dream home for a Fijian family in Labasa and wants to hear from anybody who can help.

Miss Smith, her sister Emma, a few friends and hopefully some kind strangers will head there with Habitat for Humanity in September.

They'll spend five days constructing a simple two-bedroom home alongside the benefiting family who will make monthly repayments toward the house.


Suanna Smith
HANDS ON: Suanna Smith 29, is celebrating her 30th birthday by taking an unusual tropical holiday to Fiji.

It's the first voluntary DIY project Miss Smith has undertaken and she's completed a few lessons at the organisation's South Auckland base to prepare.

Fortunately Habitat is happy to take people willing to learn some basic skills.

"But if you've got a first aid certificate or building experience your skills will be utilised in some way," Miss Smith says.

"If practical, hands on skills aren't your forte there's still a role for you and it's not just making cups of tea."

Habitat for Humanity family support administrator Jane Mead says Miss Smith's birthday present to herself is a huge coup for the organisation.

It can be difficult to get volunteers willing to spend the time and money to travel overseas, she says.

"But I've said that it's such a different kind of holiday," Mrs Mead says.

"It's an amazing experience getting to know locals and their way of life. It's very rewarding."

So far Miss Smith has seven friends and family confirmed to go with her on the trip and is looking for at least another three or four to jet off on September 27.

The cost is about $3400 each which includes air fares, accommodation and food while on the five day build.

It's paid to Habitat for Humanity which does the majority of the organising for the travelling group.

It's not everybody's idea of a birthday blowout but Miss Smith is looking forward to the trip which she sees as a good opportunity to help others.

"What's important to me is that we'll be working alongside the people who the house is going to be for," she says.

"Not only do you get the buzz of knowing that the room your painting is going to be the baby's room but you get some benefit yourself knowing you've contributed to a community."


Donations are gratefully accepted to bank account 12-3617-0003328-50

Miss Smith is selling items on Trade Me under sue84 Buy an entertainment book at

Visit Henderson Baptist Church on Saturdays for a carboot market. 

Western Leader