For those who support Habitat for Humanity, each day brings the chance to help create a world where everyone has a decent place to live. World Habitat Day offers a particularly prominent opportunity to call attention to the need for adequate shelter. Since 1985, the United Nations has recognized the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day.
This year, Habitat will engage in a month-long observance of the need for safe, decent and affordable shelter beginning on Oct. 3. On that day, Habitat dedicates its 500,000th house in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, and raises the walls on its 500,001st house in Paterson, New Jersey. Continuing the observance, Oct. 6’s Washington, D.C.-based “Build Hope: An Evening Honoring Humanitarian Leadership” brings together friends of Habitat, government officials, congressional representatives, and corporate and philanthropic leaders to focus attention on World Habitat Day, spotlight Habitat’s disaster response and rebuilding efforts in Haiti, and kick off the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project taking place in Haiti in 2011 and 2012.
This year’s World Habitat Day theme, “Housing Cities After a Disaster,” shines a spotlight on Habitat’s experience in helping communities rebuild after disasters. Habitat’s 2012 Shelter Report details the principles and policies that Habitat has learned work best when rebuilding in urban settings. “Adequate housing plays a pivotal role after a disaster and is a family’s most important asset,” reads a section of the report. “Not only does it provide shelter from hazards, but it is also a place to maintain social networks, access city services, raise children, make memories and conduct business.”
Additionally, Habitat supporters in hundreds of communities around the world will host advocacy events of their own:
- In China’s Yunnan province, Habitat volunteers will help build homes in the mountain village of Chahe. The Oct. 3-8 build week will draw attention to the needs of China’s poorer rural residents.
- In Kumasi, Ghana, families will support Habitat projects under way in their community. After a half-day of labor, a traditional durbar — or assembled court — will be held so local citizens can discuss housing needs in the area and suggest possible solutions.
- In Mexico, local Habitat staff will participate in a regional United Nations-organized World Habitat Day forum.
- In the United States, Utah’s Salt Lake Valley Habitat affiliate will dedicate a new home and launch efforts to revitalize the entire neighborhood surrounding it. A barbecue party in Marshall, Missouri, is expected to draw more than 500 people to celebrate Habitat’s local history and look toward future projects. And in Hadley, Massachusetts, supporters of Pioneer Valley Habitat will set out on a “Hike for Habitat” to raise money and awareness for local building projects.