Chesterton Tribune

Local nonprofit completes 16th house in Vietnam

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By VICKI URBANIK

When Joe and Carlota Hursey of Chesterton first started The Loving House Project, they had a goal of building one house each year for an impoverished family in Viet Nam.

Now just three years later, much to their own amazement, they are celebrating the construction of their 16th house.

“It is so rewarding,” Carlota Hursey said of the all-volunteer endeavor she and her husband launched in 2008.

The Loving House Project builds small, sturdy homes for underprivileged families and individuals in a community south of Ho Chi Minh. Hursey said the couple returns to the same area each year, working in conjunction with the local office of the Red Cross in the Tien Giang Province. The Red Cross refers names of those in need, helps obtain the necessary approvals for the home building, and helps secure local workers contracted to build the homes.

Each home costs about $2,500 in American dollars to build. Though they are considerably smaller than American homes -- each house measures about 3 by 9 meters -- they are a typical size in Viet Nam. The homes are well built of brick and concrete, each with a living room and indoor bathroom. Hursey notes that for many of the people, the homes are a luxury. “Some of these people have never had an indoor bathroom before,” she said.

Hursey said that what’s particularly amazing is the community spirit that’s shown when a Loving House is built. “All the neighbors come to help when you’re building a house,” she said, emphasizing that there’s a celebratory feeling even among those who have considerable needs of their own.

In 2010, the Loving House Project built homes for three families: A mother with two children, another mother with three children, and a married couple with three children.

In addition, the group had enough funds to make a donation to the Loa Kids organization towards the Hoa Hung Orphanage in northern Laos.

Hursey said donations to the Loving House Project were down in 2010 due to the economy, but that overall it’s not that difficult to raise $2,500 for each home -- and the money goes to extraordinary good.

The Hurseys began their non profit after they got married and wanted to do something valuable. Carlota said they found that many nonprofit organizations spend a great deal of their funds on administrative costs, and they decided that they could make donated funds go much further if they handled the work themselves. “I think we all do what we can,” she said about charity giving. But she added that she and Joe are often amazed at just how much good can be done with relatively few dollars.

All funds donated toward The Loving House go directly toward the construction of the homes. All other costs -- travel, fundraising, administrative -- are paid for by the Hurseys and other volunteers.

Hursey said she and her husband aren’t wealthy. Because their daughter is a flight attendance, they get a discount on travel costs. They love to travel and decided that they would take a special vacation each year that would produce something remarkable for a family in need.

“We’re very normal people,” she said. “We just wanted to make the most of what we contribute.”

•To see photos of the Loving House Project homes and the families who benefited, or for more information in general about the project, see www.lovinghouseproject.org

 For information about Lao Kids, see www.lao-kids.org

 

Posted 1/4/2011