They say that home is where the heart is and Nicola Atkin has certainly put a lot of heart into a lot of homes.
Not only does the Avondale resident work for Housing New Zealand, she's also recently completed her third stint volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
"I've done voluntary work for most of my life and have been to places like Portugal and the USA. It's a fabulous way to meet people, learn about cultures and language, and help local families and communities."
For her latest trip Nicola, who grew up around charity work and started helping out at the tender age of just three, did a year's planning and raised $3,000 to travel to Fiji.
Once there she helped build a Habitat for Humanity home for a family of five – mum, dad and three children.
"We were building in the village of Nagigi on the island of Vanua-Levu. When we arrived the family were living with 14 other people. Now they have a new, open-plan home that they can choose to add to in the future as they gain financial stability."
Nicola, who has also helped build two Habitat for Humanity homes in south Auckland, says she worked alongside 14 other volunteers ranging in age from 21 years to mid-70s while in Fiji.
"You get involved in everything – strapping and bracing the timber, laying the decking, painting….although the local builders wouldn’t let a couple of us girls get up on the roof when we wanted to!"
And Nicola says what she has learned has helped her in her day job too.
"At Housing New Zealand I'm a maintenance administrator, so volunteering on building sites has really developed my knowledge of house construction and maintenance."
And does she have any more volunteering adventures planned?
"No plans just yet – I'm getting married next month though and I do like the idea of getting my hubby into these volunteering trips too. That would take us to Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam. My bucket list is huge!"
About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity builds, rehabilitates and repairs simple, decent, affordable homes in sustainable communities with support from homeowner families, volunteers, donors and partner organizations in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Research shows strong links between housing and physical health, mental health, educational achievements and lower crime rates. Improved housing positively impacts all these factors within a family’s life. These outcomes benefit not only the family but the wider community, the economy, and society as a whole. For more: www.habitat.org.nz
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: The Habitat for Humanity Home that Nicola Atkin helped construct in the village of Nagigi on Fiji’s Vanua-Levu island.
FRIENDLY LOCALS: Nicola worked alongside local builders while helping build the Habitat for Humanity home for a family of five.