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Indian and Pakistani Youth Volunteers Plant Seeds of Peace at JCWP -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Indian and Pakistani Youth Volunteers Plant Seeds of Peace at JCWP

Actor, philanthropist Brad Pitt returns to build with family

Sasha from Mumbai, India, and Zunaira from Lahore, Pakistan, paint window frames on the future home of Beby Tukkaram Bodke and her husband in Lonavala, India.


Actor, architect and philanthropist Brad Pitt talks with future homeowners Shalini and Subhash Sathe during his second full afternoon of construction in Lonavala.

LONAVALA, India, Nov. 1, 2006: In a show of unity in the mission to eliminate poverty housing, 10 youth volunteers from India and Pakistan joined Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project to build homes in partnership with families in need of stable housing.

The Seeds of Peace youth volunteers hail from Mumbai and Lahore and arrived to a warm welcome. Upon their arrival at the build site near Mumbai, they received garlands and were briefed about the project. They then proceeded to the VIP tent for lunch and were taken on a tour of the build site.

On Wednesday, the third day of the JCWP, the volunteers helped to paint the window frames of a house that Australian cricket star Steve Waugh had worked on earlier. Other volunteers included more than 70 U.S. Navy staff as well as actor, architect and philanthropist Brad Pitt. The American star returned to work on the house of Shalini and Subhash Sathe, helping volunteers put up horizontal beams for the roof and chatting with the Sathes.

One of the Pakistani volunteers, Zunaira Hijazi, was touched by the warm reception that the Seeds of Peace group received. “The home partner family has been very sweet. They get me water, and when I can’t reach for something, they stack bricks for me to step on.”

When she became a Seeds of Peace member a few years ago, Zunaira attended an international camp in Maine, USA, where she learned about empathy, respect and peaceful co-existence. “Building homes in India is putting what we have learned into practice,” she said.

Zunaira hopes to return home enriched by the interaction with people from different backgrounds. By working on the JCWP, she is also acting in accordance with her faith, which inspires her to help people in need.

When asked if she will be returning to India for another visit, Zunaira’s answer was a definite “yes.”

Beby Tukkaram Bodke, the Habitat home partner whose home Zunaira is helping build, will soon leave behind the temporary residence that she shares with her husband, a gardener, on his employer’s grounds, in favor of a home that she owns and helped build.

Seeds of Peace is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1993 in Maine, USA, by American journalist Don Wallach. The organization is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and co-existence. Through international camps, conferences and workshops, Seeds of Peace helps to cultivate the leadership, communication and negotiation skills that will ensure peaceful co-existence for the next generation.

Representing the future of Habitat for Humanity internationally, youth volunteers have always been an important part of the organization’s work with families in need of simple, decent housing. This year’s JCWP has proved no exception.