Three USG Boral employees were among a team of 24 Boral personnel that helped build two homes for families in an impoverished Indonesian rural community. The Boral team was part of a larger group of over 100 volunteers from across Australia that travelled to Indonesia to work on the one-week ‘Rock the House’ project led by charity organisation, Habitat for Humanity Australia.

Twelve houses were built for families belonging to the Selopamioro community in a region prone to seasonal flooding. The volunteers worked alongside partner families that owned the homes and local contractors who supervised the building work. Team Boral raised more than $72,000 towards preparations and materials for the build.

Addressing the group before they left for Indonesia, Boral’s CEO and Managing Director, Mike Kane said, “This will be a transformative event for you. I’m encouraged by your commitment and dedication and the fact that you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and take on something that not the average person would do. You will be doing something to help and improve the situation of people in need, and for that I applaud you.”

Over five days, Team Boral dug trenches, prepared foundations, mixed and poured concrete, formed steel reinforcements, laid concrete bricks and rendered walls. The stint in Indonesia has been a life-changing experience for the volunteers. Kyal Grech, trade sales representative from USG Boral in New South Wales said the experience has built up his confidence levels, which will make it easier for him to face challenges and step outside his comfort zone.

As someone who would usually just donate to charity, Sean Leiper, chemist at USG Boral, observed that the experience allowed him to see how the funds were used and learn about the process of providing support in a practical, hands-on way.

The partner families expressed their gratitude at a handover ceremony on the final day, struggling to hold back tears as they explained the difference a safe home will make for their families and community. According to Martin Thomas, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Australia, for these families, many of who earn as little as US$2 a day, the prospect of owning even a basic house is profoundly life-changing.

Boral has been Habitat for Humanity’s ‘Building Community Resilience’ program partner for two and a half years. It is helping to rebuild vulnerable communities in Asia, which are prone to natural disasters, particularly where Boral has operations. In Vietnam, the company has helped more than 500 families in the Quang Nam, Dong Thap and Tien Giang communities improve housing conditions and better prepare for natural disasters. In Indonesia, it has assisted in upgrading two urban slums in Yogyakarta, which are home to more than 1,700 families. In Australia, Boral has donated in-kind materials such as plasterboard, timber and concrete, to help build homes for those in need.