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Annual “Jimmy Carter Work Project” Expected To Attract Thousands of Volunteers to Build in India’s Commercial Capital, Mumbai

February 24, 2005

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BANGKOK, 24th February 2005: Former US President Jimmy Carter is to travel to India in October 2006 to join volunteers from around the world to help build houses with families in need during the 23rd annual “Jimmy Carter Work Project”, a Habitat for Humanity program named in the former president’s honor.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, along with his wife, Rosalynn, and Paul Leonard, Habitat for Humanity International chief executive officer, Habitat staff and volunteers will help build homes in partnership with local families in need in Mumbai (Bombay). The project will take place towards the end of October next year.

Habitat for Humanity has been working in India since 1983, and to date has built more than 10,280 homes, making it one of Habitat’s largest country programs. Habitat for Humanity India builds houses in all regions of the country. New partnerships are being formed with corporate supporters and non-governmental organizations to extend the scale and scope of the Habitat’s activities in India.

This will be the third Jimmy Carter Work Project in Habitat’s Asia-Pacific region – projects were staged in The Philippines in 1999 and South Korea in 2001.

“Rosalynn and I have enjoyed working with Habitat for Humanity for more than two decades,” said President Carter. “We look forward to going to India to build houses with families in need.”

The Jimmy Carter Work Project

Since the first Jimmy Carter Work Project in New York City in 1984, President Carter has been drawn to Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to bring hope to people and areas others have abandoned. In 2004, the Carters worked with volunteers to build 150 homes in Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico, and this year the couple will lead Michigan in a statewide effort to build 230 homes.

Selecting India was a natural for President Carter, whose mother, Lillian Carter, known and beloved by many, joined the US Peace Corps when she was 67, and traveled to India to work with the people there. In her own words, Miss Lillian was just taking the Corps advertising campaign at face value – “age is no barrier.”

Then, in 1978, during his presidency, Mr. Carter traveled to a small village, Chuma Kheragaon, in Haryana province. So impressed and pleased were the villagers at the president’s and first lady’s visit, they rechristened the village Carterpuri, in his honor. To this day, every year the villagers celebrate 3rd January, the day of his visit.

“Habitat has had great success with our program in India,” said Habitat for Humanity chief executive Leonard, “and we are honored to be able to help in the aftermath of the terrible toll of the tsunami. As we have said so many times, the need there – as with everywhere – is so great, that the response must be long term.

“Having the Jimmy Carter Work Project in India in 2006 will mean new homes for families, but just as important, it will increase awareness and support for Habitat’s work in India and elsewhere, and will encourage people, the religious community, industry and the government to come together to address the problem of poverty housing.

“India’s need is great, and this project will not resolve that, but it will be another step in our long but determined journey to erase poverty housing from the face of the earth.”

President Carter’s longstanding relationship with Habitat for Humanity began in 1984 when he donated one day of his carpentry skills and manual labor at a work site in Americus, Georgia, USA, home to Habitat’s international headquarters. Later that same year, the Carters led their first weeklong work project, renovating a six-story, 19-unit building in New York City. The Carters have personally worked on Habitat homes that house more than 10,000 people around the world.

 

HFH Reconstructing Tsunami-damaged Homes in India

Currently, Habitat is continuing to work in India in the wake of the tragic December tsunami that struck many countries in the Indian Ocean basin. More than 11,000 people were killed in India by the tsunami. HFH India is focusing rebuilding in the hard-hit coastal areas of Tamil Nadu state in the southeast. Mr. Carter will visit Habitat’s work in the tsunami-affected area during the 2006 work project.

HFH India plans to provide permanent housing for up 6,000 displaced families over the next two years, and more if additional funds are available. The first families are already benefiting: HFH staff and volunteers have repaired and renovated homes for about 100 families, in Kanyakumari. HFH India expects to start building new replacement homes for other families once government land policies are approved.

A key part of Habitat’s tsunami response is a series of disaster response technical centers where families will be taught skills to help them build their homes and to produce construction materials such as block and tile. The first centers will be based in Pondicherry and Kanyakumari. Each center would support up to 1,000 families. HFH India expects to extend its tsunami response to adjoining Andra Pradesh state in the north and Kerala state, to the southwest.