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Building the foundation for a community -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Building the foundation for a community

By Teresa Weaver

Habitat for Humanity’s annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project is a weeklong event, but the planning behind it begins many months before the first bricks are laid. A handful of volunteers have been in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for four or five months, preparing the build site and laying the groundwork for a new community of 82 houses.

A Thai worker puts some final touches on a new community center that will be the focal point of a neighborhood of 82 homes to be built near Chiang Mai, Thailand, as part of the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.
Habitat for Humanity/Andy Nelson


Nevil Eastwood, Habitat’s construction supervisor, calls these advance team members “Habitat groupies,” because many return every year to take part in the orchestrated chaos that is the Carter project.

The build site in the Nong Kon Kru village of the San Sai district in Chiang Mai—one of five sites involved in the 2009 Carter project—is a picturesque example of Habitat’s focus not only on building decent, affordable houses but also on building communities. All 82 partner families have taken part in the site preparation, already expressing the full pride of ownership in this new community nestled in the lush landscape near the Buddhist temple.

The partner families—traders, laborers and teachers—came from all over Chiang Mai, and many have traveled faithfully from across the city to refurbish a run-down school and build a community center to be used however the new neighbors see fit.

A few days before the opening ceremony, which promises to be a spectacle of light and sound, celebrating the gorgeous traditions of Thai culture, Habitat staff members and volunteers, along with local skilled construction workers, braved the 93-degree midday temperatures of Thailand’s “cool” season to put finishing touches on the community center and get ready for 60 busloads of volunteers from all over the world who will begin rolling into this bustling village bright and early Monday morning.

Teresa Weaver is a senior writer/editor for Habitat for Humanity International.

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from Chiang Mai, Thailand.