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South Korean university students help improve slums in Brazil

March 7, 2011

South Korean university students recently volunteered with “Tidying up the house”, a home improvement project for families in Garden Valley of Flowers – an informal settlement of Sao Paolo State. The initiative was developed by Habitat for Humanity Korea and Habitat for Humanity Brazil, along with local partners Projeto Arrastão, City Hall of Taboão da Serra and the Association of Residents of the Garden Valley of Flowers.

   
 

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SAO PAOLO, Brazil (March 7, 2011)
– The vacation period for students in South Korea has become a ripe opportunity to meet new cultures and make a difference through socio-cultural exchange. This is the vision of the Happy Move Global Youth Volunteer Program from Hyundai Motor Company, which selects students from all parts of South Korea and organizes them into groups that perform social work in countries as Brazil, China, Egypt, Philippines and India.

The first two of these groups worked in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Brazil.

Space is limited, and the selection process is arduous. Through numerous interviews and essays, candidates need to make a case for why they deserve to be selected, and to demonstrate prior knowledge about the country where they are applying. In the case of Brazil, 80 applicants were competing for each available seat.

In this third and most recent Hyundai Happy Move team to Brazil, volunteers worked in home improvements rather than complete home construction. These projects typically take place in slums, or informal settlements, where community contact and exchange is rich.

   
 

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The volunteers repaired 24 houses, rebuilt two houses and repainted one daycare center, serving more than 150 people. Among these was Francisca, whose house was demolished three years ago due to danger of collapse. “I would never have been able to rebuild my house on my own,” said Francisca. “Thank God they were here, helping me, I’ll never forget.”

Hyundai Motor Company donated U$40,000 to Habitat for Humanity Brazil’s home repair project Tidying up the House. The project aims to improve the quality of life for at-risk families, particularly in terms of health. “Precarious houses built with inadequate materials, expose the family to moisture and disease, mice and insects, affecting the health of teens and children who end up missing school,” says Demóstenes Moraes, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Brazil. “Soon they lost their interest in studies and become more vulnerable to crime and drugs. This is one of main reasons why housing is a fundamental human right and is directly related to other rights as health and education.”

About Habitat for Humanity Latin America and the Caribbean
Habitat for Humanity first opened its doors in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 1979, and has since helped more than 100,000 low-income families to access adequate housing in the region. Headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Latin America and Caribbean regional office coordinates the efforts of 16 national organizations, as well as unique partnerships throughout the region. For more information, visit habitatlatino.org.

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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