Building Houses with Hope

By Mark Wiens No Comments



Gawad Kalinga, known as GK, strives to create a Philippines and world with no more slums, no more violence, and no more poverty.  With dignity and honesty, GK and volunteers build homes, aiming to create sustainable villages, and forming safe communities as well as transforming danger and poverty into nation building and lifting each other up.  In the eyes of GK there is “less for self, more for others, [and] enough for all.”

GK provides the materials and builds homes for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines.  People who had no hope in life, struggling to survive another day, and living in the dumps, are given a chance to become homeowners, live as humans should, have proper survival resources, and work at jobs.

GK aims to create sustainable villages where the homeowners have small gardens and various projects that eek out necessities and generate small profits to maintain life (similar to my friend’s urban garden project in Bangkok).  Many are taught various trades like home decorating and gardening techniques among other skills that can provide benefits and lead to work.

The community villages that GK builds contain 60-100 families and usually around that amount of houses.  The houses are not plain and ugly but rather painted in bright pink, orange, green, blue, and other colors that promote hope and happiness.  They are houses that the owners are proud to own, improving their entire lives and the lives of their family members and relatives.  The houses have plants and flower planters to make the premises look friendly and welcoming.  GK firmly believes that humans should live like humans.

In the spirit of In Search of Sanuk who aim to “have fun helping others,” it was my goal while in the Philippines to offer my time and labor to GK for a couple weeks in an attempt to meet communities, hear fascinating stories, help out in anything, and learn from everything.

The founder of GK, Tito Tony Meloto was intrigued with my past history of couchsurfing and invited me to coushsurf in and around the warm and friendly Filipino Gawad Kalinga home owners and said they would gladly welcome me into their villages.

There are over 2000 GK villages now in the Philippines archipelago already, and one can volunteer with GK while traveling throughout the islands and staying with local Filipinos, sharing food, and love.

Another quality slogan coming from Gawad Kalinga is “united we stand, provided we eat.” It is often the poor who have very little who are also eager to share what they do indeed have and treat guests with ultimate kindness and complete unselfishness.

In my next few posts on Migrationology, I will share some of the experiences and opportunities I have had with some amazing and hospitable Filipinos through Gawad Kalinga.  I hope they will encourage others to also volunteer their time and selves to be a small part of helping and encouraging others.

“Providing a decent home is just the beginning of the transformation of the people and the community.” -Gawad Kalinga

For more information on Gawad Kalinga check out their website at

For more information on In Search of Sanuk and having fun helping others check out

Before GK in Payatas-



GK Village in Payatas-


Make sure to check out these 16 Things to do in Manila.