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Habitat CEO Kicks Off Asian Tour With House Dedication* * *Celebration To Mark New Start For “Sea Gypsy” Community in Southern Thailand

November 4, 2005

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Handover: the CEO hands the keys to a new home to Marasi

BANGKOK, 4th November 2005: The first item on chief executive Jonathan Reckford’s first day of his first overseas trip since being appointed to lead Habitat for Humanity was a house dedication ceremony for a tsunami-recovery project in southern Thailand.

Reckford participated in celebrations marking the completion of the first five of 80 homes being built and renovated for families from the predominantly Morgen or “sea gypsy” community on the northeastern tip of Phuket island.

“It broke our hearts to see the damage the tsunami brought to this country. But today is a day of hope and celebration,” Reckord told the villagers.

“I am delighted to see how you have joined together to build homes and to build a stronger and more united community.”

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Interlocking: Reckford inspects compressed bricks used to keep down building costs

“Thank you for the privilege of allowing Habitat for Humanity to work alongside you in this effort and to be part of your future,” he added.

The Morgen community at Tachatchai, some 15 minutes from Phuket’s international airport, traditionally relies on fishing. Sea gyspies were among the most impoverished peoples in southern Thailand even before last December’s tsunami hit.

The nearby JW Mariott Hotel has played part in supporting Habitat for Humanity’s tsunami response in Tachatchai. The hotel has donated US$150,000 towards rebuilding and staff and guests have provided a constant stream of volunteers to work on site.

Commodities group Cargill, a major supporter in Habitat’s work in Thailand, has also provided funds and volunteers.

The homes are built using low-cost compressed soil blocks that are made on site. The blocks then interlock like children’s bricks.

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Bangkok reception: Jonathan Reckford (center) with Dr. Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chair of the Thai board and Steve Weir (left), Habitat’s Asia-Pacific vice president

The first eighty homes are due to be complete by mid-December. A second phase, starting next year, should see a further 64 homes built and renovated.

Reckford finished his first day with a reception in Bangkok hosted by Habitat for Humanity Thailand.

Dr. Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chair of the Thai board, welcomed Reckford. Representatives from Bank of Ayudhya, Citigroup, Dow, Ford and HSBC were among the 60 attendees at the reception, which was held at the JW Marriott hotel, Bangkok,

HFH Thailand has seven affiliates and has dedicated some 700 houses to date.

After one day in Thailand, Reckford’s tour takes him to Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines.