GCSD initiated its activities related to Housing since 2008, when the Executive Director, Anugraha John was elected in Nanjing, China during the World Urban Forum as the member of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) of UN-Habitat for the period 2009-2011. During his tenure as the member of YAB, John was instrumental in mainstreaming youth and empowerment strategies at UN-Habitat. He also lobbied for YOUTH at several platforms, especially at the 22nd Session of the Governing Council meeting of the UN-Habitat held in Nairobi, Kenya in March 2009. During that Session, he convinced the Sri Lankan Government to table, the Draft Resolution on Strengthening the Development of Urban Young People one of the most important YOUTH document that ensures youth participation in the UN-Habitat agenda. During this time he was inspired to not just do advocacy work but complement it with something "real" on ground as well. Thats how WE BUILD came into being.
John with the Sri Lankan Government delegation at the 22nd Session UN-Habitat in Kenya.
GCSD promotes youth participation at several Urban and Habitat related Forums and initiatives. GCSD has supported Habitat for Humanity, India by recruiting volunteers for their BUILD projects in Bangalore, India and has also organized several independent BUILDS in Bangalore engaging youth participation. Drawing inspiration from the Habitat for Humanity to work in communities and BUILD houses for the needy and poor, today GCSD organizes several BUILD projects in Bangalore and rural Bangalore.
WE BUILD 2010 was a pilot project launched by GCSD inviting 33 volunteers from countries such as Portugal, Greece, Spain, France, Bulgaria, USA, Australia, Spain, Japan, India and others to BUILD three homes in Mallasandra village outside of Bangalore. Since then it has now become an annual event and have changed lives of many. We dont just build houses for families, we empower them and the community during the entire process that magicall transforms the community.
WE BUILD was also a living example of analyzing how typical conferences/workshops are organized. People come together for the conferences/workshops to discuss "things" and most of the time they forget it when they go back to normal lives they remain an online campaigner for the same. BUT, at WE BUILD we do the process differently. Youth learn, share and work on community project for 3 weeks and then they meet together at the Youth Assembly, to share their experiences with other peers who are doing similar activities in their respectivie cities or countries. WE BUILD is all about, "Actions speak louder than words".
RAISE THE ROOF 2011 was another initiative for local youth to come together and build a house while the money was raised through a benefit concert in Australia. The project was spearheaded by John, Marcus Tudehope and Hayley Jane. Unfortunately, this we havent been able to do it annually but are looking for partnerships in India to start it again.