On Saturday, June 21, 2003, my wife, Linda, and I had the privilege of attending the dedication of the 150,000th Habitat house built worldwide. That milestone dedication was in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. At the dedication, I held David Bako, the 4-year-old son of the new homeowner family. As I held little David, I thought about what that simple, decent Habitat house would mean to him and to his family in the years ahead.
One of the beautiful things about Habitat for Humanity is the positive difference a good and secure home makes on a family. The effects of a simple, decent place to live radiate out to every member of the family; but the positive benefits go even beyond the family, creating a ripple effect of growth, change and development throughout the neighborhood, city, state, country and, ultimately, the world.
We can never know completely what long-term and far-reaching differences a small act of love and kindness directed to one family may make. This is certainly true when we talk about Habitat homeowners. The effect of having a secure place to live, especially on the life of a child, may allow someone to excel and pursue avenues never before possible or even imagined. That child might some day heal the sick, teach the young or lead some significant enterprise.
The effects of involvement with Habitat for Humanity ripple through volunteers and other supporters as well. Experiencing a day of hard work on a build site changes peoples perspectives, sometimes for a lifetime. An encounter with Habitat for Humanity may spark someone to become dedicated to affordable housing issues. It may cause a person to engage in community service of another kind. It may simply create friendships between people who otherwise would never have met or realized the many things they hold in common, despite surface differences.
God leads the work of Habitat for Humanity, and we cannot comprehend the intricate plan he has for us. We may never know the ultimate impact of the work we do, but we can already see the tremendous and interwoven results of our efforts. Improving the life of just one person can impact entire communities, nations and the world. At the close of FY 2003, Habitat for Humanity has impacted the lives of more than three-quarters of a million homeowners, and countless thousands of volunteers and other supporters.
May the positive effects of our work continue to bless ever-expanding numbers of people!
Founder and President
Habitat for Humanity International
There’s no denying that our world is plagued with very real problems. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to finding real solutions to one of them: substandard housing.
Eliminating poverty housing from the face of the earth is an enormous challenge, and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of building more houses and lose sight of something very importantwe are building houses with people. Individuals and families decide to partner with Habitat for Humanity to make a difference in their lives.
The decision to partner with Habitat for Humanity often leads to a sense of renewed hope. This is true of not only families, but also entire cities. The 2003 Jimmy Carter Work Project is a great example of three cities rekindling hope as they work to eradicate substandard housing throughout their neighborhoods.
As more and more cities embrace that challenge, the effects of Habitat for Humanity become more widespread. In South Africa, for example, the effects of Habitat’s work are beginning to spread throughout the country. The 2002 Jimmy Carter Work Project sowed seeds of hope in the Ethembeni community in Durban. More and more young people are joining Habitat for Humanity’s work in South Africa; they infuse our work with their enthusiasm and give reason to hope that the country’s racial reconciliation will continue with their generation and generations to come.
At work in 89 nations, Habitat for Humanity is transforming lives all over the world. We continue in our efforts to make people aware of the need for decent, affordable housing, and we continue to invite them to take action and be a part of the solution.
By doing so, one individual can change the worldeven if it is only the world of one family who, for perhaps the first time ever, can lie down to sleep at night knowing they are safe and secure. We ask that God continue to guide us as we solve the problem of poverty housing for individuals, communities, nations and the world.
Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors