Rock the House is the latest initiative of Habitat for Humanity, where they’re looking for teams of volunteers to help them continue their amazing work overseas.
Suze DeMarchi, iconic lead singer of the Baby Animals, steps across the doorway of an Indonesian lean-to. Woven bamboo wall panels are held together with string. The surrounding vegetation is glimpsed through the gaps in the rudimentary walls. And sunlight streams through the irregular shingles on the roof. A simple fire pit simmers on the dirt-packed floor and a wooden bench-cum-bed lines one wall. You couldn’t call it a house. It’s barely the size of a bathroom. But it is Pravero’s home. And has been for 85 years. Born in this room nearly a century ago, the rest of the world changed at break neck speed while her life has remained the same. She has always prepared her meals beneath the shelter outside her home and cooked her food over the open fire pit. She has always walked to the well for water and sold her avocados at the local tourist site. Despite her age and fading eyesight, she tells us she would never want to burden her children. Pravero reaches a frail arm out to Suze and across the doorway they hold hands for some time. When asked how her home has changed over the years, Pravero explains that she rebuilds it every time there’s a storm. Returning to our car, Suze confides, “When I imagine my own mother existing in similar circumstances, living alone like this…it upsets me so much. It’s so hard to walk away.”
As happens in life, random meetings between strangers can give birth to ideas. “I’ve had so much help across my career,” says Suze. “I want to pay it forward somehow.” And with this desire came a campaign concept. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity, Suze and the Baby Animals launched Rock the House. Calling on volunteers to join them and return to Indonesia October 22 to 29, to build safe and secure homes for Pravero and families like her. With the word “Home” tattooed across Suze’s wrist, the idea aligns with her value that home is the epicentre of security. “With a safe home, you can build a future.”
“I’ve had so much help across my career,” says Suze. “I want to pay it forward somehow.”
Habitat for Humanity has been building homes for families around the world for forty years. You don’t have to search far to discover the organisation is a household name in the US, with presidents and all manner of celebrities, from Bon Jovi to Brad Pitt, donning the hard hat to build houses for those who’ve been hard hit by life. Deploying two million volunteers worldwide, the organisation offers a way to truly touch lives, building side by side with families in need. “There’s something powerful about seeing a charitable deed through to completion,” said one volunteer on a recent build in Vietnam. In Australia, Habitat hosts 800 volunteers a year on builds across South East Asia. The building model is well oiled. Requiring twelve volunteers to build a simple house in a week. And with no building skills required, this concept speaks to Suze. She bows to the village chief, “I will return with volunteers to build houses for your community.”
And with this commitment, Rock the House was born. In the spirit of “If you build it, they will come”, the campaign is gaining momentum. 60 Australian volunteers have already registered, pledging to raise $90,000 to build five houses. With registrations closing July 22, there’s a wide-open invitation to anyone or any company looking for an opportunity to engage in this significant event. Join a team or recruit your own. Or sponsor a house, as Boral is, and send your staff and clients on a team building event.
It’s a relatively short trip to the mountains of Yogyakarta. From Sydney, the standard flight across to Bali and then a domestic one hour to Java. Yogya, as it’s affectionately known, is referred to as “The spirit of Indonesia”. And they aren’t wrong. Yogya lacks the tourist thrust seen in Bali. There’s gentleness here. A warmth in the smiles and a willingness to please. As Suze departs another lean-to shack, promising yet again to return with volunteers, a woman wipes tears from her eyes. “I am crying because I’m happy. Not because I’m sad. It is as if the moon stands with the sun.” The poetry of this statement isn’t lost on us all as we take stock of the solution this family needs. Donated funds and man-power to place brick on brick to build four walls to house a family.
Elly Bradbury is the Campaign Director for Rock the House,
Habitat for Humanity
To learn more about the build itinerary, including accommodation deals and fund raising goals visit:
or call 1800 885 599