The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | September 2007
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Desmond Tutu Visits South African Build Site

Archbishop Desmond Tutu attends the first community build held in his name in Mfuleni, South Africa.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited a Habitat for Humanity build site in South Africa in late May to thank the more than 100 volunteers from around the world who had gathered for the first Desmond Tutu Community Build. The volunteers built 12 homes in Mfuleni community in partnership with local families.

"Sometimes, God looks down on the world - at Sudan or Zimbabwe or Burma--and He says, 'Why do my children treat each other like this?'" the Nobel Peace Prize recipient told the assembled crowd. "God looks down on the world today and sees you. ... God smiles because He sees you doing this fantastic work."

Mfuleni--"a river stream" in English--is a relatively new township about 25 miles from Cape Town. The majority of residents reside in overcrowded houses made of tin, with no established access to water, electricity or toilets. Habitat plans to build 250 houses in Mfuleni over the next two years.

South African cleric and activist Tutu has been a patron of Habitat for Humanity South Africa since the 2002 Jimmy Carter Work Project in Durban. As with the JCWP, the Desmond Tutu Community Build brings together volunteer groups from around the world and the local community to build houses alongside future homeowners. Since 1996, Habitat South Africa has built nearly 1,800 houses, providing shelter for 8,000 people in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng/Northwest provinces and bringing together people across racial, economic, cultural and social boundaries.

"We hope this event will raise awareness of poverty housing issues in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world," says Matthew Maury, area vice president for Habitat for Humanity in Africa and the Middle East. "And show that when we all work together each one of us can make a contribution to solving the housing problem facing millions of families across Africa."

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Habitat Macedonia focuses on reconstruction and renovation of substandard housing.
Three Habitat for Humanity Macedonia families are getting a chance to tell their stories on national television in September, thanks to a 5,000-euro (nearly US$7,000) grant.

The grant is a part of a program managed by the Macedonian Institute for Media within the Civil Society Strengthening Project, which is implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The family videos are five to seven minutes long, with 30-second versions also available. Macedonian, Albanian and English language versions were produced and will be broadcast on private Macedonian national television station TV A1, as well as on two other regional stations in the country.

Habitat Macedonia was established in June 2004. In 2005, the organization launched a program in partnership with a local microfinance institution to establish a Home Improvement Fund. The fund provides micro-loans to families for reconstruction and renovation of substandard housing. Earlier this year, Habitat Macedonia started a new partnering microfinance program that targets Roma families and other vulnerable groups.

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What a difference a day made--that was the common sentiment expressed by volunteers from the British High Commission during their build with Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh. The one-day build in the northern Mymensingh district in late March marked the first time that a diplomatic mission had built with Habitat Bangladesh. In the capital Dhaka, nearly 60 employees from the British High Commission worked on six Habitat houses in Nandigram and Tatkura villages.

In February, Habitat Bangladesh hosted its first Global Village team from South Korea. The 18-member team, mostly high school and university students, worked on four houses in Gazipur district, about an hour's drive from the capital Dhaka. Said one Korean volunteer after the trip: "From now on, I will try to help other people around me to warm up the heart of the world."

Since it began in 1999, Habitat Bangladesh has built more than 800 houses with families in need.

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Habitat for Humanity Brazil--in partnership with Caixa Econômica Federal, the Brazilian Government Bank and World Vision--is developing a project for income generation in the rural community of Varjada, in Passira city, located in the countryside of Pernambuco State.

The economy of Passira is largely based on subsistence farming and animal husbandry, as well as small-scale commerce. Ninety percent of the female population is involved in embroidery to try to increase the precarious monthly income of the family--which, most of the time, does not reach the equivalent of one minimum wage per month. Payment for one piece often doesn't pay for the time dedicated to its production, and the presence of middlemen further splits the income generated.

Recognizing the situation, Habitat Brazil--which already has been building houses in the region--began to search for ways to promote the women as both citizens and handicraftswomen, offering the means to help them improve their craft and commercialization and, with this, their overall living conditions.

Habitat Brazil and its partners are involving the women in informative workshops about health care, civil and labor rights, income generation, business management techniques, production, market opening, and drawing. The 12-month project is financially supported by the United Nations Program for Development, in accordance with the alliance between Habitat Brazil and Caixa.

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This summer, Habitat for Humanity Germany joined civic organizations and church groups at German Churches Day in Cologne, exhibiting information on its activities in the event's Market of Opportunities.

Habitat Germany executive director Jennifer Lemke calls the special exhibition area "a wonderful opportunity to illustrate to visitors the work we do in Europe and around the world to lift people out of poverty housing through building and restoring homes."

Habitat Germany, which is based in Cologne, focuses on fund-raising and recruiting volunteers to support Habitat programs all over the world. This year, the organization is sending 16 teams of volunteers to build houses in 40 countries through the Global Village program.

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United States

AmeriCorps members and alumni build 20 houses in five days in Gulfport, Miss.
More than 500 Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members and alumni from around the United States gathered in May in Gulfport, Miss., to build 20 houses in five days with Gulf Coast-area families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

AmeriCorps is a national volunteer program that involves 75,000 Americans each year in issues of education, public safety, health and the environment. This Build-A-Thon marks 13 years of AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity working together to build affordable houses and eliminate substandard housing.

A celebration at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, Miss., on May 20 marked both the beginning of the Build-A-Thon and the conclusion of the first National AmeriCorps Week. "Since the day Katrina struck, AmeriCorps has been on the ground helping people in the Gulf Coast recover and rebuild, and we are in this for the long haul," says David Eisner, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the organization that manages the AmeriCorps program. "We chose this Build-A-Thon to be the capstone of our first-ever AmeriCorps Week to send a clear message: While great progress has been made, the job in the Gulf is far from done--and we need more Americans to get involved."

Since 1994, Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members have performed more than 5 million hours of service and engaged hundreds of thousands of community volunteers to build more than 6,500 houses. The houses constructed during the event increase the total number of Habitat homes built in Harrison and Jackson counties to more than 110 houses since the 2005 storm.

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Community members gather to celebrate the dedication of a neighborhood school in Lonavala, India.
Habitat for Humanity India moved closer toward the goal of its IndiaBUILDS campaign with a recent memorandum of understanding signed with Anarde Foundation, a local charitable trust, for 1,000 houses to be built in the western state of Gujarat. The IndiaBUILDS campaign aims to house 250,000 people over five years, mobilizing one million volunteers in the process and raising capital toward that goal. The construction of the first 500 houses is scheduled to begin in June in the Bannaskanta District of Gujarat.

In Lonavala, western India, the completion of a community hall adjoining the neighborhood school on the site of the 2006 Jimmy Carter Work Project marks the close of Habitat's construction work there. Habitat's partner organization Samparc is obtaining the local government's approval to run the six-classroom school on site. In April, five shop unit spaces and a first aid room/dispensary were constructed on the project site.

Various initiatives have been organized by Samparc for Habitat home partners, including adult literacy classes and other educational opportunities. The Habitat home partners also have registered as Samparc Abhinav Cooperative Housing Society, with office bearers elected among them to take the lead in running the community.

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