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The Countdown Is On! Habitat Booth for EXPO 2005 Takes Shape -- Prominent Interactive Habitat Display To Ram Home the Need to Eliminate Poverty Housing To Millions of Visitors

March 11, 2005


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Ready for fitting out: the four-unit Habitat booth for EXPO 2005 will encourage visitors to join the fight to eliminate poverty housing

TOKYO, 11th March 2005: The countdown is on for the official opening of EXPO 2005, in Aichi, Japan, and the chance for Habitat to share its vision of a world without poverty housing with millions of people from Japan and around the world.

A sizable, interactive Habitat display, featuring scale models of a slum house and a Habitat house, has been built on a high-traffic part of the EXPO Citizen’s Pavilion open area. The booth explains how Habitat tackles poverty housing, and features a section on Habitat’s rebuilding efforts in tsunami-stricken areas.

Final fitting out is due to take place in the coming days, in time for some 25,000 journalists who are expected to attend the EXPO Press Day on 18th March, one week prior to the public launch.

The thrust of the Habitat display is to show the misery of poverty housing and how Habitat – and its hundreds of thousands of supporters and volunteers – transforms lives by providing proper shelter.

A specific objective will be to raise awareness of poverty housing issues among visitors, most of whom are expected to be from Japan, and also to mobilize Japanese interest in supporting Habitat’s activities.

Habitat’s four-unit booth design combines the look of the current logo with the colorings of the new logo and features models, audio-visual displays and interactive events.

The design and building has been organized local volunteers from the Japan Baptist Mission, which is supporting Habitat’s display. The Japan Baptist Missionaries or Southern Baptists have been in Japan for 100 years. Their volunteers will be on hand to man the display through the six months that EXPO is open.

The first unit portrays the misery of families who live in poverty housing round the world. The centerpiece is a model of a mud-and-wattle house that a family in Sri Lanka has to call home.

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A model home: Teenage students from Tokyo’s Christian Academy in Japan with the one-tenth scale model of a multi-unit Habitat house built in Korea

The Habitat solution is featured in the second unit, which explains how Habitat works. The centerpiece here is a one-tenth scale model of a multi-family Habitat home built in South Korea.

Both the Sri Lankan and Korean model homes are the product of 14- and 15-year old students from the Christian Academy of Japan, in Tokyo. They built the houses during school art and woodcraft classes.

Visitors to the third unit have a chance to try making real bricks, similar to those used insome Habitat houses. Two miniature brick-making machines provide for a hands-on mini-work experience of life on a Habitat build site.

The final section of the display looks at Habitat’s partnerships and supporters round the world. Visitors will be encouraged to sign up for donations and volunteering.“It’s a powerful display that highlights Habitat vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” said Tetsuo Nakajima, chairman of HFH Japan.

“We are particularly looking forward to exposing millions of people from Japan and elsewhere in Asia to the reality of the Habitat mission. And we hope many of them will leave fired up to support our work either in Japan or overseas.”

Added Ron Capps, the Baptists’ Pac Rim Japan mobilization co-ordinator, “During the six months of EXPO, our volunteers also have a great opportunity to share Habitat’s core values of Christian love and faith in action with the guests. It is our joy to work with Habitat and help involve all interested people in ‘building houses and building hope’.This is the motto Habitat is known by: it fits in well with the EXPO theme of promoting global citizens and global harmony.”

The organizers of EXPO expect up to 15 million people to visit this enormous “World’s Fair” during its six-month run from 25th March to 25th September.

A new international airport,and Japan’s first magnetically levitated or maglev train service, the “Linimo”, are among the massive infrastructure projects that have already been built to support the exhibition in Aichi. Aichi is an industrial city between Tokyo and Osaka. Most top Japanese brand names are exhibiting, with many taking complete pavilions to show off their vision of the exhibition’s theme, “Global Harmony”.

HFH Japan’s main activities are raising awareness, advocacy, and mobilizing funds and volunteers. It supports the work of eleven Habitat campus chapters operating in Japan and the increasing number of teams of volunteers - about 50 a year involving a total of some 900 participants – going overseas to build Habitat homes.

The EXPO 2005 committee has provided a start-up grant of US$15,000 to help build the Habitat booth.

Financial and other support has come from long-time global Habitat supporter Dow along with retailer Costco, and local and regional companies Force 21 Equipment, ButterflyCorp. and Pilgrim Pictures. Other supporters include Kyoto Gaidai Nishi High School, Canadian Academy, Nagoya International School and Kwansei Gakuin University.