In 2010, actor Derek Ramsay joined Habitat for Humanity Philippines as the organization’s celebrity ambassador and had his first hands-on experience building homes through a project initiated by his friends and supporters on his birthday in December 2011.
Since then, the actor has been at the forefront of the organization’s effort to better the lives of the underprivileged sector of the society. It’s an advocacy very close to his heart because it reminds him that he is very fortunate to have a family that gave him the best education and practically the best in life.
In an exclusive interview with the Manila Standard, Ramsay looked back to the time he rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty in a relocation site in Navotas.
“It was during a pressing time because I snapped my entire forearm a month before the build. But it didn’t stop me from getting my hands dirty and have my first hands-on experience with Habitat,” the 39-year-old actor and athlete said.
He was able to gather about 150 of his friends and supporters to join him, which was a joint housing project of the local government and Habitat. The housing project served as a relocation site for families whose homes were devastated by a calamity that year.
Two years later, Derek visited the site and was surprised at how the area turned into a completely different community compared to what it was when he first saw it.
“I saw how many lives were changed by the project that gave them [the beneficiaries] better roofs over their heads. It made me feel so much better about myself, it feels so much better to sleep at night knowing that you’ve helped so many people out there to better their lives,” the actor recalled.
Being with Habitat makes Ramsay feel fortunate, and Habitat’s initiatives make him feel that he is part of a bigger family.
“And if a member needs help you really need to go out there and lend a hand. That build alone in Navotas is 650 [houses], and then there’s another one in Laguna which is 650 as well, I can’t keep count…but imagine how many people or families have benefited from this effort,” he said.
According to the actor, having a decent roof over your head helps open doors to a lot of things including better health, better life and better future.
“Because of the homes they now have, they can get their values intact and teach those values across to their kids. Having your own decent home really makes a lot of difference,” he added.
Further extending his passion for charity work and in an effort to encourage members of the public to partner with Habitat for Humanity in building decent places to live for the underprivileged sector of the society, Ramsay spearheaded the “Plus Can” project.
Unlike an ordinary donation drive can, the “Plus Can” is a pre-paid coin bank that represents a unique way of getting people involved. Formerly known as “Coin Bank,” Habitat is adding a meaning to the can. The difference is that the new Habitat tin can has a coin slot in a shape of a plus sign (+).
Each person who wishes to have a “Plus Can” will need to make a donation of P500.00 to Habitat in exchange for the can and after the initial donation is made, they may be able to use the can to raise funds, or simply as a piggy bank, souvenir or collectible item. The initial donation will be pooled with other generous unrestricted fund donation to sustain Habitat’s goal of building healthier communities and transforming lives.
“We have made the usual slot into a plus sign, symbolizing how every coin you give is a plus for humanity by building homes for families in need,” Ramsay said during the project launch attended by Habitat prospective donors and partners.