Last week Habitat for Humanity International hosted its Annual Legislative Conference- Habitat on the Hill– 2013 on the 4-5th February, 2013. A unique, brilliantly conducted event, gave me the opportunity to interact and understand two keys attributes of Habitat.

  • How Habitat for Humanity thrives because each person, whether an affiliate or a recipient, stands committed to the cause. There is an appreciation for each others work and a deep sense of pride in your own, as well.
  • There is no saying no- there is no giving up. None of the processes and functions at Habitat for Humanity embody an ounce of doubt. Governed by absolute self belief and belief in the mission, Habitat for Humanity does not give up.

Habitat for Humanity International builds and operates in more than 75 countries across the globe. Building houses for families outside of the United States of America, 90% of the times.

Dedicated in its intent, outside of the US, the organisation is vastly affected by the redundancy in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Given the worldwide incidence of poverty and the need for a reallocation of funds from developed countries to developing and under-developed countries, more and more non-profit organisations are advocating for an amendment in the Act. The Act is insufficient built for the challenges of the 21st Century, including housing and the growth of slums.

The Act dedicates a total of 1% of the U.S. Annual Budget to International Affairs (Pages 75-85 of the above document). However poverty focused development assistance makes up about 0.5%. Aid is spread across 12 departments and 25 Federal agencies.

Having stated this, I was given the unique responsibility to study the Act and advocate for a necessary amendment. I was able to lobby with two Congress persons as a part of the Habitat of Humanity team. Congresswoman Eleanor Norton from the District of Columbia and Congressman Brad Schneider from Illinois.

Understanding that by 2030, the number of people living in slums is expected to double to 2 billion and that histrionically, U.S. foreign assistance has NOT emphasized housing and the growth of slums.

Via this opportunity I was able to extensively talk about my country’s challenges with increased rates of urbanization  bringing to the forefront that nearly 50% of Delhi’s population lives in informal and inadequate living conditions.

Energized by this experience, I am enthralled with the idea of understanding the environment of legislative ‘lobbying’ in India!!!

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