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US Sailors "Invade" Vanuatu Village To Help On Rural Build **** First HFH Vanuatu Youth Build Project

August 2, 2005

PORT VILA, 2nd August 2005: More than 25 US Navy personnel invaded a small village in north Efate in late July to help Habitat for Humanity Vanuatu stamp out rural housing poverty. Another seven sailors provided ground support for a Habitat housing mission near Club Hippique.

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Invasion duties: crew members of the USS O’Kane display one of the concrete blocks they made in Siviri Village

The male and female sailors, from the destroyer USS O’Kane, helped dig foundations and ditches, make blocks and carry sand in Siviri village, and plaster walls at the Club Hippique site.

“It’s been a while since I’ve done any community service work, and I kind of like doing it. It gives people a positive view of Americans. It’s good to do something for others,” said Arnel Alcantara, one of the crewmembers involved in the projects.

The Siviri project is HFH Vanuatu’s first completely rural project in Vanuatu and also its first youth build project. Seventeen volunteers from Youth Challenge International, 15 from the Habitat’s Building Center and 10 local volunteers have been working at the site since July 18, when they began training for a two-week workshop on concrete interlocking block. Youth Challenge will work in the village for a month.

Habitat’s national director Loucine Hayes said the Siviri Village project is a two-year, 12 million Vatu (more than US$110,000) project and will be completed in four stages, with Siviri providing funding for one-third of the construction costs up front. The village will also contribute sand, wood, water and other resources.

The Siviri plan involves 36 construction projects, including 17 full homes, five house completions, four home renovations, three extensions to existing houses and five flush toilets. The plan will include four composting toilets, two of which are slated for Launere Beach as part of the community’s plan to upgrade tourist facilities at the popular beach.