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Habitat 'should become contagious'

Mahesh Lobo has spent the week working on Tamika and Ronald Smith’s house on East High Street in Benton Harbor. When he goes home, he will get on with his job as Habitat for Humanity International's regional program adviser for Nepal, Bangladesh and his home country of India.

Mahesh Lobo, a Habitat staff member from India, traveled to Benton Harbor for JCWP 2005. JCWP 2006 will take place in his home country.

“India is a rich country with many poor people,” he says. “We have many resources, but they are not being utilized.”

Mahesh says that India’s housing challenges come from its enormous population and the fact that it does not have enough decently paying jobs to go around. Landlessness is also a problem: Most people do not own land, let alone a house. They get by in huts and shacks that have no running water or sewage facilities.

But Habitat is working on it. Mahesh is getting many good ideas for next year’s Jimmy Carter Work Project, which will be held in India, during which volunteers and homeowners will blitz 500 houses on six sites in and around Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

“I see the passion with which people are coming to volunteer,” he says. “They have fallen in love with this blitz!”

Mahesh believes that Habitat should be the initiating force for building simple, decent houses in India, empowering local communities to create stable housing for their own people.

“It should become contagious,” he says.

Emily Koon, Writer/Editor, Habitat for Humanity International

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