President and Mrs. Carter joined about 2,000 other volunteers at the Maragondon building site for morning devotions Monday.
click to enlarge

Philippines Fact #1:

The nation of the Philippines comprises more than 7,000 islands.

Leroy Troyer checks the plumb of the walls and windows in House No. 6, which President and Mrs. Carter built in partnership with the Salas family. click to enlarge
Magbayanihan Tayo: "Let Us Build Together"

By Pat Curry

"Habitat volunteers have a unique ability to break down barriers," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told thousands of volunteers and guests at the 16th annual Jimmy Carter Work Project. "They have a magic carpet [with which] to travel a few feet or a few thousand miles to meet people who are different."

For six days, from March 21 to 27, the six JCWP sites in the Philippines served as something of a mini-United Nations. In the largest JCWP ever, some 14,000 volunteers from 32 countries shared their skills, their enthusiasm and their sweat to build safe, decent shelter in Paranaque, Maragondon, Bacolod City, Dumaguete City, General Santos City and Tagbilaran City (see accompanying map for locations).

The excitement for the project began long before the volunteers arrived, jet-lagged (the record appeared to be held by George Chimasula of Malawi, who chalked up some 32 hours of travel time), but ready to start work.

What was originally described as a blitz of 250 houses ultimately exceeded expectations and before volunteers headed home with sore muscles and plentiful memories, the JCWP participants had mixed enough mortar, laid enough block, raised enough trusses and installed enough roofs to house 293 families.

The theme for the 1999 JCWP, Magbayanihan Tayo, ("Let Us Build Together") had both biblical and Filipino cultural roots, where an entire village helps roof a neighbor's house or move the house to another location. That sense of partnership and cooperation is a hallmark of HFH Philippines, which had already built 2,000 homes before JCWP began.

At the main site in Maragondon, the project was a partnership between three organizations: Habitat for Humanity; World Vision Development Foundation, an arm of an international Christian relief and development organization; and Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran ("Partner for Development") Inc., a Christian development organization formed and run by families in the area. World Vision Japan donated the funds to purchase the land, and World Vision Philippines funded a drainage/water system development and a new community center with a playground.

Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US, says the synergies between Habitat and World Vision were obvious. "World Vision has been working in this community since 1990, addressing things from clean water to education to food to micro-enterprise. We get involved with housing from time to time. When all the volunteers go home, World Vision is still here doing community development. It makes a lot of sense for us to be partners."

As always, the impetus for building a Habitat community in Maragondon came from the people.

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More about the Jimmy Carter Work Project:

Daily Reports: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

More JCWP Overviews: 2000 | 1998 | 1997 | 1984-96

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