Constable keen on challenge of new habitat

"It's some pretty sub-standard, low-income living,"

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013
Darren Hayes
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
NAILING IT: Constable Darren Hayes has got his hammer out in preparation for a Habitat for Humanity journey to Vietnam.

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Constable Darren Hayes is set to swap his handcuffs for a hammer when he heads to Vietnam in August.

The Inglewood policeman is off to Rach Gia in south Vietnam, where he will be one of 150 Kiwis helping to build homes for 35 families as part of Habitat for Humanity's Mekong Big Build.

Mr Hayes said most families in the area lived on less than US$2 a day in homes that had no access to clean water, while others were squatting in illegal rental properties.

"It's some pretty sub-standard, low-income living," he said.

Mr Hayes' sister took part in a similar project two years ago in Kathmandu and was asked to put a team together for Vietnam, which is the reason behind his involvement.

Although his building expertise was limited, he said he had done the odd bit of plumbing and roofing with his dad.

"Each team will have a couple of tradesmen and the rest of us will just do what we're told.

"To be honest when I first applied my wife said, 'I know my reaction when you pick up a hammer, what on earth are they going to think when they see you?' "

Mr Hayes, a policeman for the past 12 years, said he was reasonably fit but expected the Vietnam heat to give him some grief.

"I've been out running and mowing the lawns today and I'm still trying not to sweat, so imagine what it's going to be like over there." As well as the Kiwi contingent, 150 other volunteers from around the world will be there.

Mr Hayes said each of them would donate $1000 to Habitat for Humanity Vietnam, which planned to build at least 150 homes in the area.

A total of $4800 is needed, which Mr Hayes is looking to fundraise in order to make the trip.

Mr Hayes said he was looking forward to meeting the 35 families who would also work alongside them on-site.

"It's going to be a good opportunity to see how the other half live.

"We'll get a chance to see what the families are living in now and on the last day be able to shake their hands and watch them walk into their new homes, which will definitely give you that sense of achievement."

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