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Highlights from China -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Highlights from China

Friday, November 20, 2009

Celebrities celebrate Habitat experience

Hong Kong celebrity volunteer Lisa S., model and vee-jay, worked at the China build site most of the week and raved about it: "It is the best charity experience I have ever had, and I learned to build a house, which is really important," she said. “Habitat is like a United Nations of volunteers.”

Hong Kong based celebrity couple Daniel Wu and Lisa Selesner pose for pictures with other volunteers at the end of the work day during the 2009 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Sichuan, China. Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker


Seeing so many volunteers come from so far away to build in Qionglai City gave her a surge of energy, she explained. Inspired by her first build with Habitat, she said she would like to experience other Habitat builds around the world.

Her build teammate, Hong Kong actor and director Daniel Wu, said personal contact with families in need was a major difference between Habitat and other charities.

At the end of a build, Wu said: "You might be sore. You might be tired, but you know that you have really helped somebody."

Finding her purpose in families

Olivia Wong, an overseas personnel manager from Cathay Pacific, arrived this week with several Habitat builds under her tool belt.

Her first Habitat build was with post-tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka in 2005. Since then, she has built with Habitat several times in the Indonesian island of Batam, twice in Romania and also in Hungary. She keeps going on Habitat builds, she said, because "the purpose that God has given to me is to build with Habitat."

With all her build experience, she is now a crew leader. Meeting new people and building alongside families makes her humble, she said. "The families have such pride and integrity. They don't need a lot to be happy." Habitat builds "help me to be grounded; to appreciate what God has given me."

Gathering together

The Sichuan build under the 2009 Carter Work Project officially ended with a dinner for the volunteers who gathered to watch a photo slideshow of scenes on the work site and hear testimonies from various volunteers.

A couple from the San Francisco Bay, California, United States area, Peter and Nancy Lee, started those testimonies. Nancy said that she was physically tired but psychologically satisfied.

A Hong Kong fireman, Leo Wong, quipped that he had to go to work every day during the Sichuan build, though his day job did not require him to do so. But he wanted to build again. "I hope that in the future, we'll meet again and build homes for families in need of help," he said.

Meeting again became a theme at the dinner. Teams spent part of the closing ceremonies planning future reunions.
—Hiew Peng Wong

Monday, November 16, 2009

A beautiful picture
At a chilly 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), The Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project build in Qionglai city claims the title for being the coldest Carter Work Project site this week. One videographer at the event said, "You know it is cold when you see steam coming up from the water in your cup, but the water couldn't dissolve the instant coffee."


A further drop in temperature is expected on the second day of the build. While the teeth-chattering cold is not everyone's cup of tea, a documentary producer from Hong Kong has a positive take: "If it snows, it won't be as cold and it'll make a beautiful picture," Tammy Cheung beamed.

Muddy build and boots

Down on his knees, Habitat for Humanity International photographer captured dozens of pairs of mud-caked track shoes, hiking boots and electric blue Wellingtons. Volunteers walked nonchalantly past him with muddy sweaters and jeans to match their soiled shoes. Workers swept brown puddles out the side of the main tent. At the temporary toilets, a helper would move in with a mop, cleaning up the mud-covered floor each time someone came out. Meanwhile, another worker would be ready with a small pail of water for volunteers to wash their hands. "This is VIP treatment," said an amazed volunteer.
—Hiew Peng Wong