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Habitat Gears Up To Bring Relief after Heavy Rains in Western India * * * Youth Build Communities Affected

August 1, 2005

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MUMBAI, 1st August 2005: Habitat for Humanity India has set an initial target to raise some US$1.5 million to help at least 1,000 families affected by the torrential rains that have inundated much of the western state of Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai city, the financial center of India.

HFH India Trust’s Mumbai office is working with potential corporate and community donors to raise funds to be used for repairs, renovations and new buildings once the waters start to retreat.

Habitat staff and volunteers are currently assessing the situation both in the city and in two communities, Mahad and Karjat, where HFH India Trust plans to build in its “Youth Build India 2005” campaign later this year.

In Mahad, some three hours south of Mumbai, at least 100 people have been killed and 1,000 houses affected. However, two Habitat homes built in a pilot youth build survived unscathed. Habitat’s partner in the area, the Christian organization Jana Kalyan Trust, had to move 105 children out of its orphanage.

No deaths were reported in Karjat, also south of Mumbai. However, one hundred homes have collapsed, and rice and other crops badly affected. The Academy for Development Science is Habitat’s partner in the community.

Some eight kilometers from HFH India Trust’s Mumbai office a landslide killed 80 people and affected more than 200 homes. Habitat’s office assistant Deepak lost his home. Habitat provided him with 5,000 rupees in cash for immediate relief.

Habitat’s Mumbai office is effectively closed at present. Internet links are down though the mobile phone network is working.

The monsoon rains are unusually heavy this year. In the past week, rains have caused flood and landslides that have killed nearly 1,000 people. Roads have been closed, and air and train services disrupted. The foci of Habitat’s efforts have yet to be confirmed but will probably be in Mahad and Mumbai itself.

HFH India Trust postponed its official launch for Youth Build India 2005, which was scheduled to take place in the JW Marriott hotel in Mumbai this Saturday (6th August). However, the Youth Build is expected to proceed as planned from October. “In fact we may start mobilizing youth volunteers sooner,” said the man behind the project, Joseph Scaria, Habitat for Humanity International’s Mumbai-based corporate donor specialist. “We will mobilize youth to start repairs. We could exceed our Youth Build target of building 150 houses in the area.” Youth Build India 2005 aims to build 500 houses in six locations. More than 10,000 youth volunteers will be mobilized from schools, colleges, corporates, youth organizations and service clubs. Ends…….