Dumaguete City has a community program in housebuilding for that poor that is supported by volunteers and donors and the city government.
Known as Dumaguete City Habitat for Humanity, Inc or simply as Habitat, it has built 834 houses in 8 sites and continues its vision and mission to build more houses for those in need.
One consistent group of volunteers for Habitat are students from Kwansei Gakuin University in Myogo, Japan led by Prof. Nobu Imaizumi who himself had made over 30 trips to Dumaguete specifically to build houses for the Habitat community.
As a university lecturer, Prof. Nobu has brought in over 600 Japanese students to the Habitat housebuilding program. The students pay their own fare in coming over from Japan on their summer break, contribute money to pay for a Habitat house and build alongside Habitat homepartners to finish a house for the Habitat community. In the process they meet and interact with the villagers from the Habitat community. Many of these students have joined the Habitat work camp previously, some coming for the 7th or 8th time.
This week Prof Nobu was in town again with 24 Japanese University students and 6 University graduates who are now professionals in their different fields. They will build a house for a Filipino family they do not know in 4 days in one of the Habitat sites.
This will be Prof. Nobu’s last official visit as a university professor with his students as he officially retires from his university post next year. One of the significant contributions of Prof. Nobu is his interest and contribution, his students’ contribution to the Habitat scholarship program. His students and former students pledge to continue the scholarship assistance to the Habitat scholars even after Prof. Nobu’s retirement.
During the dinner given by the Habitat Board for Prof Nobut and the students, I asked Kensuki, who has joined Prof Nobu 8 times for housebuild at Dumaguete Habitat why he keeps coming to do housebuild for Filipinos. He said he loves helping Habitat build houses for the poor community and he appreciates the Filipinos’ simple life and happy disposition. Kensuki now works in Manila with a Japanese corporation.
Kensuki informed me that a happy twist to the visits of the students to Dumaguete is the marriage of Toshihito and Eri who strengthened their love during their many trips and housebuild work in Dumaguete. They are now working in Japan but came to join the Habitat housebuild with other students. A happy Yuko joined us in our talk, Yuko has been here 5 times for house build in her 3 years in the university.
I have previously written about the mission of Dumaguete City Habitat for Humanity and its impact on the lives of our poor who needs decent housing; the other part of the equation, the volunteers, play a big role in this program.
Retirement may mean leaving a career but it does not mean stopping an advocacy; Habitat expects to see Prof. Nobu in Dumaguete in the coming years, and the lesson of sharing and volunteerism he taught to his students continues to bear fruit. His students, those who have graduated and those still in the university will continue the tradition of love for others through self giving to the less fortunate that he has taught.
Sensei Nobu, the teacher has taught well. The lesson of life and living, sharing and giving that he taught has touched many. The lesson is learned. (By Lele Martinez)