Walls rise in Santo on Carter Work Project’s first day -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Walls rise in Santo on Carter Work Project’s first day

By Teresa K. Weaver

 


Habitat for Humanity volunteers and home partners raise the walls on new Habitat houses in Haiti's Santo community during the first work day of the 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. ©Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker

   


Nearly 500 volunteers reported for duty Monday for the first full day of building at the 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

By the end of the day, most of the walls and a lot of the roof trusses had been raised on 100 Habitat houses being built this week on a former sugarcane field in the Santo community of Léogâne, Haiti.

The volunteers endured scorching temperatures and sky-high humidity with humor and good grace.

The onsite medical team tended to dozens of heat-related ailments. Most of them required a dose of electrolytes and a cooling-off timeout in one of the big yellow buses that transport the volunteers every day from their campsite in Christianville to the build site.

President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, took a short break from building to field questions at a press conference, along with Claude Jeudy, national director of Habitat for Humanity Haiti, and Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

“Many of our volunteers here are rich people by most of the world’s standards, who can afford to pay their way down here,” Carter told the journalists assembled in a white tent on the build site. “We hope that every one of us, when we go back to the United States, will be ambassadors and tell the business world and the political world and the humanitarian world what the need is here.”

When asked to explain his continued involvement with Habitat, Carter spoke from the heart. “The chasm between rich people on the one hand and those who don’t have homes is deep and broad,” he said. “But we can reach out and work side by side with families that need help, and we can do that all over the world. Habitat is the best way for volunteers who want to do good things to contribute and help people without giving a handout and without feeling superior about it.”

On Tuesday, volunteers get back to the business at hand: building homes that will give 100 families — 750 men, women and children — a new start.

Teresa K. Weaver is director of Program Communications for Habitat for Humanity International, based in Atlanta.