Bankers paint house in record time

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 30/11/2012

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A bunch of Palmerston North bankers have ditched their work suits and and donned work overalls in order to help a refugee Congolese family in Roslyn.

It was all hands on deck at the Habitat for Humanity house yesterday when nearly 40 ANZ Bank staff grabbed tools and took on the task of painting Mathilde Mbani's home in an hour.

The Upham Tce house, which is the first Habitat home to be built in Palmerston North for eight years, was behind schedule and the bank's regional manager Steve Davey thought he could help.

With visions of a 60-minute TV-style makeover, Mr Davey rallied his workmates to join in the one-hour challenge to get it back on track for the December 25 deadline.

Staff were given paint brushes, shovels and wheelbarrows, and put to work installing trellises, moving muck and sorting drainage ditches.

The plan was to do almost two weeks' work in an hour to help the family move in soon, Mr Davey said.

"Sometimes banks get a bad rap, but we're quite a vital part of the community and we do like to play a part in the community too.

"We're a big employer in Palmerston North, so it's good to be able to use our resources to help others in town."

Ms Mbani, a Congolese refugee, said she was overwhelmed with the number of people who turned up to help.

"It's just amazing. When I drove down the street and saw all the cars lined up outside my house, I just thought 'this is great, it's God's hands here to help'."

After leaving the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo six years ago, Ms Mbani said owning her own home was a goal she was determined to work towards.

"I'm not a stranger, or a passenger here in New Zealand. I love living here and am here to stay for good."

The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house is extra special because Ms Mbani's 20-year-old son, Steva Moukassa, helped build it as part of his UCOL apprenticeship.

"It's great that he could help, he picked the career himself and he's got a bright future being a builder."

Habitat for Humanity is an international not-for-profit Christian organisation that teams up with homeowners to build simple, decent and affordable housing for families.

The Manawatu team is helping Ms Mbani every weekend. People interested in volunteering can email manawatu.habitat@gmail.com.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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