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Habitat for Humanity Leaders to Build Sri Lanka House

Former Habitat officers to build Sri Lanka-style home at Global Village

AMERICUS, Ga., Oct. 24, 2003– It is one thing to sit in a clean and quiet conference room and hammer out a master plan to change people’s lives. It is something else to implement, monitor and evaluate that action plan. It is another thing still to do that, then raise money, get your hands dirty and sacrifice to highlight the plight of the people and families who lack a safe and decent place to live.

That is what members of Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Leadership Council will do Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 29-31. The former members of the organization’s international board of directors will roll up their sleeves to build a replica of a Sri Lanka house at the Global Village & Discovery Center in Americus, Ga.

Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s most densely populated and poor countries. Ten years of civil war have devastated commerce and production, destroyed a flourishing tourist trade and displaced more than 700,000 people. The Sri Lanka Habitat affiliate has worked since 1994 to reconcile religious groups, hoping to unite people to build badly needed houses.

“Habitat is about building homes for people in need,” said council member Bruce Gunter, the event coordinator and a former treasurer of Habitat’s international board. “It seems a natural fit for us to provide leadership on a project that embodies the spirit of Habitat by building a house at the Global Village.”

Team members are Mark Korell, Denver, Colo.; Patsy and Rocky Bonsal, Southern Pines, N.C.; Edgar Stoesz, Akron, Pa.; David Matthews, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Maggie Chrisman, Phoenix, Ariz.; Carl and Jean Umland, New York, N.Y.; and Bruce Gunter and Kathie Day, Atlanta, Ga.

“We are all very excited at the potential of the Global Village to spread the good news message of Habitat for Humanity,” Gunter added.

Michelle Dalva, Global Village & Discovery Center executive director, said, “We are really glad and blessed to have them come out to support us in enhancing the village. Their generosity is certainly appreciated and we hope that other leaders will emulate them.”

Since opening more than three months ago, the center has received positive responses from visitors and inspired others to become more involved in Habitat’s work, she says.

“One of the first guests to visit our Global Village, upon completion of the tour, pledged to build a Habitat house every year for the rest of his life,” she said. In another case, a 10 year old, touring the village’s “Living in Poverty” section with his family, asked his mother if people actually lived in shacks like those on display. The mother, regretfully and truthfully, said, “Yes.” After a second trip through the exhibit, her 5-year-old son asked, “But babies don’t live here, right?” She said the visit had a profound effect on her family and pledged to volunteer four hours every week with her local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

The Global Village & Discovery Center features:

• Five guest areas: a Visitor Welcome Center, a Marketplace with a theater, a “Living in Poverty” exhibit, 15 completed houses that make up the Global Village, and an area where families can learn to make house bricks and tiles.

• Hosts and guides who describe the lives and customs of families around the world and who re-create scenes with guests.

• Opportunities for visitors to plan a Global Village volunteer vacation to one of 80 countries.

Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 89 nations have built and sold more than 150,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.