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The Sounds Of The Hawaiian Hula And A Visit By A Rising Star At EXPO 2005, Japan * * * * Habitat For Humanity Shows Thousands How To Combat Poverty Housing

July 7, 2005

NAGOYA, 7th July 2005: The spirit of “Aloha”, a love of life filled with love, compassion, kindness, passion and strength, wafted across EXPO 200, in Aichi, Japan,

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The Aloha spirit: The Honolulu Master’s Touch Hula team with pastor, singer and songwriter Makito Watanabe spread the Habitat message in Japan

recently conjured up by the sites and sounds of Hawaii’s famous hula dances Dancers, musicians and singers from the Olivet Baptist Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, invoked the Pacific islands at performances at the Habitat for Humanity stand at EXPO 2005, the world exposition currently under way at the Japanese city of Nagoya. Hula dances relate ancient island myths that have be played out in rhythms reflecting ocean waves, trees, flowers, waterfalls and stars. In the voices, hands and feet of the church group’s Master’s Touch hula team, the spirit of aloha and hula came alive. The 19-strong church team performed several times at the US pavilion as well as in the EXPO SETO “citizens” area where Habitat has its booth. “They promoted Habitat for Humanity in all their comments and speeches. It was great,” said Daniel Tay from Habitat for Humanity’s Japan office.

Habitat’s outside booth has proved a focal point for visitors to SETO, the citizen’s pavilion area where many non-governmental groups are represented as part of the EXPO theme of promoting global harmony. Habitat’s interactive stands have attracted a host of high-profiles visitor, including a princess from the Japanese royal family, and numerous journalists.

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A big hit: The team from Olivet Baptist Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, brought the rhythms of hula to EXPO

One recent visitor was Hiroshi Nakada, the elected major of Japan’s second largest city, Yokohama. The 37-year old is a rising star of Japanese politics and a supporter of Habitat’s work to combat poverty housing. Earlier this year, Habitat worked with the mayor’s office on tsunami fund-raising appeals including an auction at the city’s Hard Rock Cafe.

Volunteers are manning the EXPO stand to share Habitat’s vision of a world without poverty housing with millions of people from Japan and around the world.

The sizable four-unit Habitat display features scale models of a slum house and a Habitat house. The booth explains how Habitat tackles poverty housing, and features a section on Habitat’s rebuilding efforts in tsunami-stricken areas.

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 of the Habitat presence is to raise awareness of poverty housing issues among visitors, most of whom are from Japan, and also to mobilize Japanese interest in supporting Habitat’s activities.

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. The Southern Baptists also organized the visit of the Hula performers from Olivet Baptist Church.

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

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.