World Leaders Bring Attention to Habitat for Humanity
At the invitation of Habitat for Humanity's most famous volunteer, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 28 heads of state and government from 26 countries, and thousands of other volunteers, built and supported construction during the first World Leaders Build, Aug. 5-11, 2001.
The World Leaders Build coincided with the 2001 Jimmy Carter Work Project in the Republic of Korea, and President Carter himself joined South Korean President Kim Dae-jung to build with Korean partner families. With the help of 9,000 volunteers, they built 136 houses in six South Korean communities during the week.
U.S. President George W. Bush was also one of the World Leaders Build participants. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush worked alongside the Evans family of Waco, Texas, raising the walls of the family's home. Meanwhile, in Fairfax, Va., near the nation's capital, White House staff worked on nine townhouses at another World Leaders Build event.
European and American youth ranging in age from 16 to 19 combined their efforts with those of the World Leaders Build in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Vasile Soporan, prefect for Cluj County, spent a day building alongside the youth and the homeowners, drawing newspaper, radio and television coverage for Habitat for Humanity's growing work in Romania and throughout Europe.
Among the dignitaries at the World Leaders Build event in Brits, South Africa, was Honourable President Thabo Mbeki. President Mbeki spoke to the assembled public and media before laying blocks on the build site with volunteers and homeowners. Also on hand was Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, South Africa's national housing minister, who publicly expressed her dedication to eradicating her country's backlog of substandard housing.
His Excellency Dr. Andrés Pastrana Arango, president of the Republic of Colombia, was one of several heads of state participating in the World Leaders Build in Latin America. The president presented keys and Bibles to two new homeowners in a ceremony in Quimbaya and then participated in the construction of a third house.
The World Leaders Build not only drew worldwide attention, but also resulted in a total of 1,175 houses for people in need. The event presented government leadersfrom the mayors of small towns and villages to the presidents of nationsan opportunity to learn more about Habitat for Humanity's mission and to become active participants in it. Many world leaders expressed their gratitude for the chance to benefit their local communities as part of a global effort. Their exposure to Habitat for Humanity put the vital need for decent shelter on the hearts and minds of these individuals who are in the position to help so many families in need.
Student Advocates Raise the Roof
On April 10, 2002, young people on campuses around the United States came together for a day of advocacy and action. HabiFest 2002: Raising the Roof on Poverty Housing allowed students to share with their campuses and communities the problem of poverty housing and Habitat for Humanitys solution.
Students at more than 125 schools organized HabiFest events. Activities included sleeping in makeshift shelters to simulate the conditions of substandard housing, letter-writing campaigns to government officials, community forums about poverty issues, and many other efforts aimed at putting poverty housing on people's hearts and minds.
The students' advocacy efforts were rewarded by attention from various media outlets, including a national spot on ABC This Morning.