World Leaders Build
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President Benjamin Mkapa launches Tanzania's World Leaders Build events

by Tilly Grey

CHAMWINO, Tanzania -- His Excellency President Benjamin William Mkapa of Tanzania, First Lady Mama Anna Mkapa and many other high-ranking members of the government left the halls of Parliament Monday to lay blocks, dig foundations and build mortar walls on four Habitat for Humanity Tanzania houses to officially open Tanzaniaís participation in the World Leaders Build. Local dignitaries and volunteers cheered as the president laid the cornerstone of Janet and Julius Ulanga's new home in Chamwino village near the capitol city of Dodoma.
Photo by Tilly Grey
  President Benjamin Mkapa, right, officially kicks off Habitat for Humanity Tanzania’s World Leaders Build event.

President Mkapa was re-elected in November 2000, and cited eliminating substandard housing as a major issue for his new administration during his inaugural address. In the spirit of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, President Mkapa insisted that “Today there will be no speeches. Today, we build.” HFHT is building 10 houses in two communities in Dodoma this week.

President and Mama Mkapa have been supporters of Habitat for Humanity for many years. Mama Mkapa has sponsored a women’s build and hosted a fundraising dinner in 1999. Habitat for Humanity Tanzania has built more than 1,700 houses since 1985. National Coordinator Maria Chomyszak told the president and other guests at the opening ceremony that HFHT can be actively building in every region, every community in Tanzania with the support of government, churches, corporations, the affluent and “the wanachi” (“the people,” in Swahili).

President Mkapa was invited to participate in the World Leaders Build by Jimmy Carter, Habitat’s most well-known volunteer in many parts of the world. This week's Jimmy Carter Work Project, led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, is taking place in six sites in the Republic of Korea. —Tilly Grey is Habitat for Humanity International’s correspondent for the Africa/Middle East area

Tanzania Prime Minister Builds in Chidachi To Celebrate World Leaders Build

by Tilly Grey

DODOMA, Tanzania—The chidachi tree–a twisted skinny trunk topped by a wild mess of thorns–is a sorry thing. But to future homeowners who are building a new Habitat community under the chidachi trees on the outskirts of Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, these trees are a beautiful sight.

The soil is poor and thin, but when these families look at the site of the new Chidachi community, they see land donated for 315 Habitat houses, plus churches and mosques, schools and clinics. Ten new Habitat houses will be dedicated there Saturday to celebrate the World Leaders Build.

The local government has promised infrastructure, and there is already a ring road and water to the new neighborhood. As Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye and other dignitaries toured the site Tuesday, men hauled on ropes, chanting songs as they raised the huge poles that will carry electricity to the community.

"A good community needs a source of good food, clean water and especially solid houses," the Prime Minister said. He also urged the homeowners to be faithful about paying their mortgages, so the work can continue.

Homes here are four rooms with an attached latrine and shower to meet city codes. They cost a little more than $1,000 (US). Most of the future homeowners work in small shops in town or for the government. They will bring running water and electricity into their individual homes as they can afford it.

The World Leaders Build Tanzania houses are being built in two communities this week–Chidachi and Chamwino (see story from August 6).

—Tilly Grey is Habitat for Humanity International’s correspondent for the Africa/Middle East area

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