5 August 2001
Habitat For Humanity International's 18th annual Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP 2001) began today in Asan, South Korea. "There's a wonderful spirit here," said Habitat For Humanity's Founder and President Millard Fuller, as thousands of volunteers arrived to participate in the weeklong event. More than 9,000 volunteers from South Korea and other nations around the world are gathering to put love into action by building 136 family units alongside local homeowner families.
"We've gone from building one house to building a house every 26 minutes," exclaimed Fuller to volunteers, reminding them that Habitat is "God's work and God's movement."
This year's JCWP event is unique. Heads of states and governments from 20 nations have responded to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's invitation to build with Habitat for Humanity in their respective countries during the World Leaders Build. This event occurs simultaneously with JCWP 2001 and involves influential leaders from 43 nations joining heads of state to construct another 1147 houses.
"This past Tuesday, I went to the White House," Carter said. "I met with George Bush. He told me that this week he will go to Waco, Texas, to join us in building."
The former U.S. President Carter reminisced about his previous visits to South Korea, first as a young officer in a submarine in 1950, fighting alongside Korean compatriots "to guarantee freedom and peace to this nation." Almost 13 years later he returned as president of the United States, and on his third visit, he and his wife Rosalynn became the "first human beings in 43 years" to go across to North Korea and return to South Korea via the DMZ (Demilitarized zone).
Chairman KunMo of Habitat For Humanity Korea referred to the organization as "an action-oriented program of the National Reconciliation Movement." "We, 70 million Koreans, will become one; one in God's grace," he said. "We will achieve national reconciliation and become the people whom God would use for his ministries all over the world."
Prior to JCWP 2001, young Korean and Japanese volunteers cycled 400 kms from Pusan to Asan, carrying this same message of reconciliation.
The JCWP 2001 opening ceremony was graced by a musical extravaganza, including a creative blend of welding and fire torch special effects as well as hymns and instrumentals, celebrating the event.
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