International Board Chair Of Habitat For Humanity Witnesses On-going Work In Southern Thailand To Help Families Affected by 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
Presentations, Dances And Dedications Mark Visit To Krabi Island Community
BANGKOK 4th April 2008: Chairman of Habitat for Humanity’s International board of directors Ron Terwilliger started 30 families in southern Thailand on the road to a new life when he presented special Habitat savings boxes so they could start saving for their new homes.
Saving just 30 baht a day – less than US$1 a day – will give each family a down payment for their new Habitat homes in less than a year.
“It’s terrific to see Habitat in action even here in the south of Thailand, helping working people to have a chance to have a decent home,” said Terwilliger.
The families are the latest group of families in southern Thailand set to benefit from an on-going partnership between Habitat for Humanity Thailand and World Concern to help those affected by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. World Concern is an international, Christian-based non-governmental organization that specializes in community development.
Terwilliger was visiting Koh Khlang, a Muslim community on Khlong Prasong island, between the resort island of Phuket and Krabi on the Thai mainland. Seawaters as high as one meter swamped the island after the tsunami.
Thailand is the first stop on a nine-day tour that will see Terwilliger also visit Habitat projects in Indonesia and Vietnam.
The presentation of the savings boxes came at the end of a special ceremony in the community hall at the local school.
As part of the event, Terwilliger, HFHI area vice president Rick Hathaway and HFH Thailand chief executive Panida Panyangarm were among those who presented dedication plaques to a dozen home partners who had recently completed new houses.
Village boys danced for the assembled crowded. Terwilliger and the local imam said prayers for the occasion.
Terwilliger reflected on the importance of working with Muslim communities. “It’s a way to rebuff the idea that Christians and Moslems must be in conflict.”
“I love seeing Habitat serve people of the Muslim faith. It shows that Christians are working with and helping all peoples,” he said.
Later, Terwilliger, Hathaway and Ana Marie Clamor, project director for World Concern, each cut celebration ribbons on three of the new houses.
At the house of fisherman Sommit Sitimoon, 31, and his 31-year-old wife Ba Lai Wan Chewaygahn, their daughter Chanada, aged nine, said: “I am excited to see these foreigners have come so far to see our new home.”
Their hollow concrete-brick house covers 36 sq. m. and comes with an outside toilet. It cost about 140,000 baht (US$4,445). The family had already saved a 30,000-baht down payment. The repayments for their seven-year mortgage are about 850 baht a month.
Next door a similar house was dedicated for fisherman Yeat Chewaygahn, 39, his wife, 39-year-old Laor and their nine-year-old daughter Bala.
Across the way, the group cut the ribbon on the raised wooden home of boat taxi driver Sanchai Khorkhlong, 34, Haroothai, 30 and their children, Fara, Faria and Farout, aged eight, six and two. Their raised home, which used recycled wooden materials, covers 28 sq m. Sanchai has already built a porch on the front of his Habitat home. The family had already saved 20,000 baht of the 105,000 baht cost as a down payment.
The Habitat-World Concern project, called “More than Houses”, started in April 2007. Ninety families have benefited with new homes or repaired homes to date in Koh Khlang and five other communities.
The main breadwinners in the families work as day workers taking jobs such as fishing, tour guides, construction work or garbage collection.
In nearby Phuket, Rayong and PangaNga, the partnership has helped some 500 families affected by the tsunami.
Back in Bangkok, Terwilliger today attended a donor event to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the formation of HFH Thailand. Earlier in the day, he addressed a lunchtime meeting of members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand where he spoke about the state of property markets, and the work of Habitat for Humanity.
HFH Thailand has grown rapidly in recent years. By December 2007, some 2,425 homes had been built and repaired all over the country, including about 800 in southern provinces affected by the tsunami. By June 2010, the total should have grown to more than 7,400.